The exhibit, Undress Your Mind, at the Institute of Sexology certainly followed through on its promises with over 200 artifacts from around the world spanning art, film, photography and more. The exhibit, while about sex and the study of sex, was about just that: the science of sex. How it has been viewed over the ages, particularly as seen through the work of pioneers like Kinsey, Mead and Freud.
It took me nearly an hour to meander my way past strange sexual contraptions, close-up photos of genitalia and phallic art from around the world. The end was rather anticlimactic, the last portion of the exhibit featuring rather boring interviews from four researchers on the subject. It would be untrue to say that any of this wasn’t interesting — but as I wandered my way through the exhibit, I was left wanting for more.
As I was preparing to leave, I stopped to sit down a minute next to some groups of girls huddled in a corner, up against a wall, looking at a graphic book of photographs featuring peoples’ naked bodies. That felt like the most interesting part of my experience at the exhibit — witnessing this fascination we have with ourselves and why its such a source of embarrassment and sometimes shame. As if our curiosities are ours alone, as if we are not in any way part of a larger whole — we somehow think that we are different in our wanting to see, to feel, to touch, moreso than anyone else.
As I reflected there on the seat near the exit, I felt disappointed. Like I hadn’t been loved properly. I wasn’t sure why I was left unsatisfied with the entire exhibit and I also wasn’t sure how I was going to write about anything interesting.
When all else fails, get your iPhone out of your purse and check your messages. I had an email from my mother in Dallas. Her neighbor had lost his battle with cancer, she said. Life goes by in a blink, she said.
Reading about a loss after having just spent an hour mulling over life’s primal life force, it occurred to me what I had been hoping for and from this exhibit without being fully conscious of it. I wanted it to be about something more than just sex. I wanted it to be about love and connection and how sex fuels these things. I wanted it to be less about the early days of sexual research and more illustrative of how this research has allowed humans to become more comfortable with ourselves. I wanted it to be about how sex shapes our lives. How our yearnings and desire for one another, while fundamentally necessary, bear both positive and totally disastrous consequences in our lives. I wanted it to be about the meaning of the role of sex in our lives. Perhaps that was the whole point of the exhibit — to get us thinking. And as far as the meaning of the role of sex in our lives, I suppose that’s the conclusion we must conjure for ourselves.Tags: Institute of Sexology, Love, Sex, undressyourmind, wellcome center