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Sex and architecture: New exhibition explores tangled relationship

“1,000 m2 of Desire” is now on view in Barcelona

1,000m2 of Desire: Architecture and Sexuality,” a new show that opened last week at the Centre de Cultura Contemporània in Barcelona, explores the intersection of architecture and sexuality. More specifically, it looks at the ways in which Western culture has “planned, built, and imagined spaces for sex” beginning in the 18th century to the present over 250 works comprising drawings, architectural models, art installations, films and documentaries, books, and other materials.

Divided into three thematic sections titled “Sexual Utopias,” “Libertine Refuges,” and “Sexographs,” the exhibition attempts to show the power spaces have in driving desire as well as how architecture has been used as a means to control behavior and reinforce gender stereotypes. The show also aims to address the following question:

In the Western context, in which permissiveness is no longer transgression but the norm, what role does space play in reviving transgressive eroticism, in re-eroticizing society?

This project explores the interstices of freedom in certain non-normative spaces for desire, such as the queer movement, and the way these constitute revolutionary resistance to commodified scenarios and to the control of increasingly all-encompassing social structures.

Works include projects from Madelon Vriesendorp, Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Charles Fourier, Marquis De Sade, Guy Debord, Carlo Mollino, Adolf Loos, Wilhelm Reich, as well as from contemporary architects and artists. “Mini exhibitions” will also be on view and include a recreation of Nicolas Schöffer’s Centre for Sexual Leisure, an installation dedicated to Playboy magazine and its architecture, and a version of an archetypal 1970s porn theater.

A look at a few of the works below.