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Clayton Pettet, art student planning to have sex in front of audience: 'Is virginity even real?'

4th November 2013
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Central Saint Martin’s student Clayton Pettet, 19, has sparked outrage with his intention to lose his virginity as part of a performance art piece entitled Art School Stole My Virginity. The 19-year-old with have sex with another boy in front of an audience of up to 100 people who will then be invited to ask questions about his experience. This is scheduled to take place on 25 January of next year and aims to challenge the idea of sexuality.

Pettet, who has been planning the event since he was 16, said: “The key thing about performance art is that it should only be performed once, and this is the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime performance.

“I’ve held on to my virginity for 19 years, and I’m not throwing it away lightly. Basically it’s like I am losing the stigma around virginity.

“I want the audience to see if anything has changed between me and my partner.

“Since culturally we do hold quite a lot of value to the idea of virginity I have decided to use mine and the loss of it to create a piece that I think will stimulate interesting debate and questions regarding the subject.”

The idea is that people will be encouraged to question the importance of virginity and the traditional values placed upon it while also considering issues surrounding sexuality and gender.

"Virginity has almost become heteronormative in its definition," he says. "Is virginity even real? Or is it just an ignorant word that was used to dictate the value of a woman's worth pre-marriage?"

Artist Clayton PettetHe has chosen not to tell his parents about the project but has informed his tutors at the university.

His plans have faced heavy criticism – Clayton has been accused of cheapening sex and gay campaigners slammed his decision to have sex for the first time in public.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement feels the shocking project cannot be called art and that it degrades the special relationship of sex between loving partners.

Spokesperson Rev Sharon Ferguson said: "I'm not quite sure how that's art. My view is that we believe that all sexuality is a gift from God. It's about what you do with it and how we use it is an expression of our love for God. For my imagining in sex as an art form, I don't think this falls into that category. My issue is around is this the right expression of someone's bodily sexuality? As an art project in front of an audience, where is the love, respect and mutuality in that? Stunts like this cheapens our own sexual relationships."

Is this as disturbing as campaigners argue or is it simply another attempt to shock in the name of art?

As the artist Grayson Perry said: "Art can't shock us anymore – we are all bohemians now." 




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