Sex Workers' Pop-Up

Sex Workers' Pop-Up A free exhibit featuring artwork and performances by and about sex workers from around the world, March 10-16 in NYC
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Operating as usual

08/28/2020
An Exhibit for and by Sex Workers

Well before the global pandemic hit, sex workers were organizing for their human rights in a society that has tried to keep them down. Five months ago, our pop-up exhibit showcased art by and for sex workers from around the world, in order to highlight their humanity and amplify their voices.

As Global Network of Sex Work Projects' Ruth Morgan Thomas says, “This exhibition is about showing our diversity, showing our realities, which are ones, as you can see...are amazing, proud individuals standing up as sex workers saying, ‘I'm human, look at me.’”

We're grateful to everyone who came to the exhibit, and to all of you who didn't get a chance but still proudly believe that sex work is work. Take a look back at the experience and the art, and hear from the organizers and activists who made it possible.

Sex Workers' Pop-Up
06/10/2020

Sex Workers' Pop-Up

Well, we knew March was going to be eventful, we just thought it would be for more celebratory reasons. Even though we h...
04/02/2020

Well, we knew March was going to be eventful, we just thought it would be for more celebratory reasons. Even though we had to close early, we're grateful to all of you who were able to visit, shared your experiences on social media, and joined the global movement to decriminalize sex work.

And finally, thank you to The Soze Agency, which produced the pop-up gallery, and to our advisory committee, who steered the process and pulled together an amazing and inspiring community of sex workers, artists and activists from around the world:
* Jules Kim, CEO of Scarlet Alliance - Australian Sex Workers Association
* Kholi Buthelezi, National Coordinator for South Africa's Sisonke
* Leila Raven of Decrim NY
* Ruth Morgan Thomas, founding member of the Global Network of Sex Work Projects
* Shareese Mone, development coordinator for HIPS
* Thierry Schaffauser, co-founder of Strass - Syndicat du Travail Sexuel

(Portraits credit: Robyn Twomey/Redux for Open Society Foundations)

From Joggapa communities in India, to sex workers in Colombia and Guatemala, to intersex activists in the United States,...
04/02/2020

From Joggapa communities in India, to sex workers in Colombia and Guatemala, to intersex activists in the United States, Carlos Motta's GENDER TALENTS documents the ways in which society conditions and regulates bodies, and how gender activists build politics of resistance and action.

This archive of documentary video portraits, which played under the red umbrellas of the Sex Workers' Pop-Up, features trans and intersex activists who thoughtfully perform gender as a personal, social, and political opportunity rather than as a social condemnation. You can watch the interviews here: https://gendertalents.info/portraits/

Today is #TransDayofVisibility, and to commemorate, we're sharing more portraits of trans sex workers in New York and Wa...
03/31/2020

Today is #TransDayofVisibility, and to commemorate, we're sharing more portraits of trans sex workers in New York and Washington, D.C. These powerful images by KishaBariPhotography were commissioned for our pop-up and we're proud to have featured them on our walls.

"The free exhibition invited people to enjoy artwork from around the world, and listen to sex workers from different cou...
03/27/2020
NYC's Sex Work Exhibition Officially Pops Off

"The free exhibition invited people to enjoy artwork from around the world, and listen to sex workers from different countries that often feel 'misunderstood, criminalized, and misrepresented.'"

Crowds poured into the creative arts hall on 9 West 8th Street in lower Manhattan for the first day of the much-anticipated and debated Sex Workers’ Pop-Up exhibition, which officially kicked off Tuesday night. Multimedia projects were strewn on every wall from summery poetry and illustrations to ...

Sex workers are losing money because of the coronavirus. Advocates say that means they’re more likely to face exploitati...
03/27/2020
Sex Workers Are Suffering During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Sex workers are losing money because of the coronavirus. Advocates say that means they’re more likely to face exploitation.

Sex workers are losing money because of the coronavirus. Advocates say that means they’re more likely to face exploitation.

It shouldn't be controversial to view sex work as work. The Sex Workers' Pop-Up was created to call attention to the sto...
03/26/2020
Sex Workers’ pop-up art exhibition sheds light on controversial industry

It shouldn't be controversial to view sex work as work. The Sex Workers' Pop-Up was created to call attention to the stories, voices, and lives of sex workers, and remove the stigma through art.

Artwork by 17 current or former sex workers will be featured in a week-long exhibition meant to help shift public perception of people in the sex industry.

Earlier this year (though it feels like a hundred years ago), openDemocracy published Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, an...
03/26/2020

Earlier this year (though it feels like a hundred years ago), openDemocracy published Beyond Trafficking and Slavery, an 11-part series about the push for sex work deciminalization, as told by sex worker rights groups and allies around the world. Take a break from coronavirus coverage and read the in-depth series here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/beyond-trafficking-and-slavery/

The painting "I Support Sex Worker Rights" combines artist Rosa Ngala Curtis's activism and culture, using traditional m...
03/25/2020

The painting "I Support Sex Worker Rights" combines artist Rosa Ngala Curtis's activism and culture, using traditional motifs and symbols. At the top left and right are strong women with fighting sticks, used in support of sex worker rights. The umbrella in the center is the universal symbol of the global sex worker rights movement, while the circles in the painting symbolize the waterholes in the desert that mean life. In Rosa's tribe, she is a rainmaker. The strong women depicted in the painting are bringing life wherever they go, fighting for sex worker rights.
(Photo credit: Jonna Algarin Mojica)

In the New York City neighborhood of Flushing, many Asian immigrants have struggled to get by in the formal economy, and...
03/25/2020
Pop-Up Exhibit Shines a Red Light On the State of Sex Work

In the New York City neighborhood of Flushing, many Asian immigrants have struggled to get by in the formal economy, and some turn to sex work and massage parlors to make ends meet. Bedford + Bowery examines their plight, and the push to decriminalize sex work in NYC and globally, through the prism of the Sex Workers' Pop-Up and the art and activism of Red Canary Song 红莺歌

In Greenwich Village this week, a sex workers pop-up exhibition is attracting attention. Bondage rope draped loosely from the ceiling along with objects like high heels, dildos, and leather belts r…

"As empathy grows for sex worker’s plight, I wanted to know: What would decriminalization of sex work look like in the U...
03/25/2020
What Would the Decriminalization of Sex Work Look Like?

"As empathy grows for sex worker’s plight, I wanted to know: What would decriminalization of sex work look like in the US? Is it enough to move sex workers out of the shadows?"
(via Autostraddle)

As Vermont became the second state to introduce a bill to decriminalize sex work, the real possibility of decrim future is on our horizon. But how would decrim take shape in the United States? Woul…

Visitors to the Sex Workers's Pop-Up were challenged to rethink their views on sex work and leave with a fuller, more co...
03/25/2020
NYC Sex Workers’ Pop-Up: ‘Sex Work Is Work’

Visitors to the Sex Workers's Pop-Up were challenged to rethink their views on sex work and leave with a fuller, more complicated idea of who sex workers are.

The Sex Workers’ Pop-Up in New York City showcases art by activists who are demanding the decriminalization and destigmatization of the sex work industry.

Sex workers, like others in the freelance and gig economy, are grappling with COVID-19's toll on their business and fina...
03/24/2020
How Sex Workers Are Grappling With Coronavirus

Sex workers, like others in the freelance and gig economy, are grappling with COVID-19's toll on their business and finances.
via Paper Magazine

"Do they go broke or keep working with the risk of exposure?"

Candice Breitz is a Berlin-based artist whose moving image installations have been shown around the world. Her short fil...
03/23/2020

Candice Breitz is a Berlin-based artist whose moving image installations have been shown around the world. Her short film “Sweat,” a collection of ten interviews that ran on a loop at our pop-up, offers a series of glimpses into the lived experiences of Cape Town, South Africa-based sex workers. All of the sex workers featured are activists with the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce.

You can watch the interviews here: https://vimeo.com/candicebreitz

As sex workers went on strike for International Women’s Day earlier this month, posters popped up on the London Undergro...
03/22/2020
Posters advocating sex work decriminalisation appear on the London tube

As sex workers went on strike for International Women’s Day earlier this month, posters popped up on the London Underground calling for the decriminalization of sex work.
(via Dazed and Confused Magazine)

The adhacking campaign precedes a protest to call for the normalisation of sex work and point out the dangers of criminalising it

DASPU (of the whores) is a Brazilian clothing line and political catwalk that uses joy and irony to break standards of b...
03/20/2020

DASPU (of the whores) is a Brazilian clothing line and political catwalk that uses joy and irony to break standards of beauty, sexuality, gender, and sex. The late Gabriela Leite created DASPU in 2005, continuing her decades of activism, and it has grown into a cultural and artistic movement that brings the sex workers together with other movements, such as collectives for trans rights, in powerful performances that evoke resistance and sensuality.

These photos by the artist and photographer Daniela Pinheiro show the DASPU catwalks in São Paulo from 2014 to 2017. Part of a larger exhibition called Puta Luta (whore fight), they communicate the strength of the fashion shows where sex workers, artists, and activists perform their fights for sexual freedom, body diversity, and human rights. By reclaiming the word puta as a political position and the catwalk as a political space, DASPU drastically expands the visibility of sex workers’ rights, resistance, and power.
(Photo credit: Jonna Algarin Mojica)

“Men are using the virus as leverage: ‘I’m already taking a risk seeing you. So why should I use a condom?’”
03/20/2020
Coronavirus Fears Are Decimating The Sex Industry

“Men are using the virus as leverage: ‘I’m already taking a risk seeing you. So why should I use a condom?’”

As COVID-19 spreads in Seattle, sex workers are losing clients and taking more risks

In many countries, police use condoms as a tool to arrest sex workers. This dangerous situation is well known by organiz...
03/19/2020

In many countries, police use condoms as a tool to arrest sex workers. This dangerous situation is well known by organizations that promote and distribute condoms, including UNAIDS and the Global Fund. However, they take no visible action when the condoms they provide are confiscated by police and used to persecute sex workers.

In July 2018, the Empower Condom Police patrolled the International AIDS Conference, carrying out lighthearted “stop, search and arrest” operations. More than 150 delegates were publicly “arrested” for carrying condoms, eight booths and networking zones were issued with closure notices, and more than 1,000 condoms confiscated. Created by the Empower Foundation, a sex worker-led organization in Thailand, the performance collected 220 signatures for a subpoena demanding UNAIDS and the Global Fund bring an end to the use of condoms as evidence and to decriminalize sex work.

Watch the Empower Condom Police in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-wp6iUzFnU

(Photo credit: Jonna Algarin Mojica)

Whether your working from home or in self-quarantine, remember: "There’s no such thing as free porn. Pornhub and other t...
03/16/2020
85 Ways to Make Sex Workers' Lives a Little Easier

Whether your working from home or in self-quarantine, remember: "There’s no such thing as free porn. Pornhub and other third-party sites take a percentage of what the performers make and make money from ads. Even if you're watching 'for free,' they're still making a profit that we aren’t. Pay for porn."

Read this list of 85 ways you can be an ally to sex workers, then tell us: what are some others? How are you showing up for sex workers and other marginalized people in your life and community, during this COVID-19 shutdown and every day?

Sex work is a cornerstone of society, and there are more ways to support people who do it than just tipping generously (though that's a great start).

While we're heartbroken that we had to close the pop-up early, we know this is barely a minor inconvenience compared to ...
03/16/2020
I'm A Sex Worker & Coronavirus Is Killing My Business

While we're heartbroken that we had to close the pop-up early, we know this is barely a minor inconvenience compared to the serious hardships many sex workers are now facing due to COVID-19. Here's one account.

On Tuesday, Conservative peer Lord Bethel said: "Kissing is wonderful but potentially dangerous." Those words and the advice from the government on coronavirus is killing trade for sex workers.

The red umbrella has been the international symbol of the sex work movement for nearly twenty years. The canopy of red u...
03/14/2020

The red umbrella has been the international symbol of the sex work movement for nearly twenty years. The canopy of red umbrellas that lined the atrium ceiling of the Sex Workers' Pop-Up was created by Sun Kim, a New York-based production designer and art director. Standing under it, you could feel the visibility and security the movement is fighting for. We can feel it even in these photos. Can you?

(Photo credit: Jonna Algarin Mojica)

Sex Workers' Pop-Up's cover photo
03/13/2020

Sex Workers' Pop-Up's cover photo

Our pop-up may now be closed, but the fight for the rights and humanity of sex workers powers forward. We will continue ...
03/13/2020

Our pop-up may now be closed, but the fight for the rights and humanity of sex workers powers forward. We will continue to highlight the art that filled our walls and the artists and activists who created them here.

Stigma, a two-painting series by Despo Debby, calls attention to the aggression, harassment, insults, and slights that sex workers—and POC street sex workers in particular—experience every day. An Australian Indigenous sex worker and queer black radical artist, Despo Debby is a part of the sex worker arts collective Debby Doesnt Do It For Free.

UPDATE: The Sex Workers’ Pop-Up will be closed starting Friday, March 13 to support New York City’s efforts to contain t...
03/12/2020

UPDATE: The Sex Workers’ Pop-Up will be closed starting Friday, March 13 to support New York City’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Given the temporary nature of the exhibit, we regret to inform you that we will not be reopening.

We must do everything we can to ensure the health of community members by minimizing public gatherings. If you were not able to view the exhibit, please visit our website and continue following us here to learn more about the participating artists and activists and about the global sex work movement.

We are actively monitoring the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. Out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of public ...
03/12/2020

We are actively monitoring the evolving COVID-19 outbreak. Out of an abundance of caution and in the interest of public health, we are canceling all remaining events.

At this time, the exhibit remains open, but we ask visitors to take measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, as determined by NYC Health: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/coronavirus.page

Please check back here or on our website for regular updates on operating hours. https://sexworkerspopup.org

Red Canary Song 红莺歌, a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers, was founded after a massage worker in Que...
03/11/2020

Red Canary Song 红莺歌, a grassroots collective of Asian and migrant sex workers, was founded after a massage worker in Queens named Yang Song was killed during a police raid in 2017. Mouth of the Coalmine (2018), a multimedia work inspired by her and the oppression faced by so many sex workers, is on view through Monday, March 16 at the Sex Workers' Pop-Up. http://sexworkerspopup.org/
(Photo credit: Jonna Algarin Mojica)

Over the past two years, 101 female and transwomxn sex workers have died in South Africa, with 45% attributed to murder ...
03/11/2020
Maverick Citizen: FEMICIDE NATION: #SayHerName: Murders of sex workers remain high, yet invisible

Over the past two years, 101 female and transwomxn sex workers have died in South Africa, with 45% attributed to murder and only 10 reported by the media, according to Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce's annual #SayHerName campaign report.

Since 2014, most of the sex workers who died in SA were murdered – often while working. The #SayHerName campaign has tracked down and described the cases it could find and has compiled them into a data-based report.

In these photos: Nuestra Suerte en la Arena (Our Blessings in the Sand) by Pluma Sumaq"The installation fits into the If...
03/11/2020
Activism, spirituality and financial realities in an exhibition about sex workers in New York

In these photos: Nuestra Suerte en la Arena (Our Blessings in the Sand) by Pluma Sumaq

"The installation fits into the Ifá religious tradition and is devoted to the Orishas Yemaya and Oxum, who 'represent the river and the ocean and the inner abundance that we all have', the artist says. The work includes the names of various US-based sex worker activists, objects traditional to the Ifá belief, and money to symbolise the spiritual idea of infinite wealth. The work is 'dedicated to people who have been stigmatised for the way they earn income', the artist says. 'Even if people don’t agree with our choices, we’re still here living purposefully and are supported by our spirituality.'"

Read the full The Art Newspaper review of the Sex Workers' Pop-Up, now open through March 16.

(Photo credit: Jonna Algarin Mojica)

Now on view at the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up: Portraits by photographic artist Ajamu, from his series I Am For You Can Enjoy, ...
03/10/2020

Now on view at the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up: Portraits by photographic artist Ajamu, from his series I Am For You Can Enjoy, a living archive of queer black men at the margins of race, sexuality, labor, and society.

A free exhibit dedicated to the global sex worker movement, the Sex Workers' Pop-Up is now open to the public through March 16. Visit us at 9 W. 8th Street in New York City. Learn more: https://www.sexworkerspopup.org

Address

9 W. 8th St.
New York, NY
10011

Opening Hours

Monday 10:00 - 20:00
Tuesday 10:00 - 20:00
Wednesday 10:00 - 20:00
Thursday 10:00 - 20:00
Friday 10:00 - 20:00
Saturday 10:00 - 20:00
Sunday 10:00 - 20:00

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What is the Sex Workers’ Pop-Up?

The Sex Workers' Pop-Up is a free exhibit in New York City that features artwork and performances about sex work from around the world.

Sex work is often misunderstood, misrepresented, stigmatized, and still criminalized in most countries. Labeling sex workers as villains or victims won't improve lives or society, but labor protections and human rights will. That's why sex workers are organizing to represent and defend their interests. This pop-up exhibit asks visitors to listen to the voices of sex workers, and reflect on how society defines work.

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected]

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