Highlight on Tom van den Wijngaert

Censorship Series
From 07/04/2022 to 24/04/2022

Censorplay is an ongoing series by Ghent based artist Tom Van den Wijngaert, started in 2021.

In 2018, personal blogging site Tumblr announced a ban on adult and explicit content. Even though I wasn’t really posting any “explicit” content on there (I was always a bit too self-conscious of my body to get around to it), it still came as a shock to me. It was a wake-up call of sorts. A reminder that the depiction of (queer) sexual joy was still under attack. That what we considered safe spaces for (sexual) expression could just as easily be taken away from us.

On Instagram, I am constantly confronted with friends that face bans and deletion from the app for posting content that is deemed inappropriate. Even when they do their very best to censor themselves, while keeping the integrity of their work. Meanwhile I see content by other creators uncensored, only because they are more public, socially accepted, figures.

Sex work, erotica and queer arts are constantly chased out of the public eye. Even in artistic contexts we are too often seen as outliers rather than proper players that should be taken seriously.

Censorplay is a playful comment on this. To me, it is about questioning what is more important to erase from view. What we can show, and what we can’t. Or what we want to show, and what we won’t. It serves as a first part of a deeper look into censorship and exhibiting sexual content.

The found images are from old personal ad magazines I found in a secondhand porn shop. Acting a bit like a hook up app before the internet, you could write to these magazines with your personal information in hopes of finding a potential sexy pen pal. Next to these ads the books are filled with erotic stories and images. But even these books would get censored. Most of the genitalia and penetrative actions were blacked out. Sometimes I would get lucky and find issues that were free of any censorship. These images are the base for the final paintings, reproduced and painted over in vibrant colors inspired by the covers of the original magazines.

This first part of the series is collected in a book, printed in an edition of 50.

Tom van den Wijngaert

Opening 07/04 at 6pm –

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