May 4 – June 15, 2021
Events are subject to change
We Can’t Afford to Work For Love: A Panel Discussion
A panel discussion on the material conditions structuring the sale of creative and sexual labor.
Monday, May 17, 2021, 7: 00 pm – 8:00 pm | Online Event
Harm Redux for Sex Workers: Skill Sharing with Ripley Soprano and Syd
An outdoor skill-share providing tips and kits designed for drug-using sex workers and their friends.
Saturday, June 5, 3:00 pm, 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm | Recess, 46 Washington Ave, BK, NY 11205
Screening of In Heaven with Tourmaline
Sophia and Tourmaline show and discuss their new short film, functioning as both art and ad.
Viewing hours TBD | Recess, 46 Washington Ave, BK, NY 11205
Note from the artist:
ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴜʟᴇꜱ ᴏꜰ ᴇɴɢᴀɢᴇᴍᴇɴᴛ ꜰᴏʀ ᴜɴᴛɪᴛʟᴇᴅ (ɪɴᴄᴀʟʟ) ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴄʜᴀɴɢᴇᴅ.
ɪꜰ ᴛʜɪꜱ ɪꜱ ᴀ ꜱᴘᴀᴄᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴡᴏʀᴋ ɪᴛ ꜰᴏʟʟᴏᴡꜱ ᴛʜᴀᴛ ᴇᴠᴇʀʏ ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ʜᴀꜱ ᴀ ᴘʀɪᴄᴇ.
ᴛᴏ ᴇɴᴛᴇʀ ᴛʜᴇ ɪɴᴄᴀʟʟ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ɴᴏᴡ ᴛʜʀᴏᴜɢʜ ᴊᴜɴᴇ 15 ᴀ ᴛʀᴀɴꜱᴀᴄᴛɪᴏɴ ᴍᴜꜱᴛ ᴛᴀᴋᴇ ᴘʟᴀᴄᴇ. ᴡᴇ ᴡɪʟʟ ᴇxᴘᴇʀɪᴍᴇɴᴛ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴀ ɢɪꜰᴛ ᴇᴄᴏɴᴏᴍʏ ᴀꜱ ᴡᴇʟʟ ᴀꜱ ꜱᴛʀᴀɪɢʜᴛꜰᴏʀᴡᴀʀᴅ ᴄᴀꜱʜ ᴇxᴄʜᴀɴɢᴇ. ᴛʜᴇ ᴘᴀʀᴛɪᴄᴜʟᴀʀꜱ ᴄᴀɴ ʙᴇ ᴡᴏʀᴋᴇᴅ ᴏᴜᴛ ᴠɪᴀ ꜱɪɢɴᴀʟ ᴀᴛ 9174264408.
ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴅᴏ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀɴᴛ?
ᴡʜᴀᴛ ᴡɪʟʟ ʏᴏᴜ ᴏꜰꜰᴇʀ ɪɴ ʀᴇᴛᴜʀɴ?
❁ ᴛʜᴇ ʀᴇᴀᴅɪɴɢ ʀᴏᴏᴍ ʀᴇᴍᴀɪɴꜱ ꜰʀᴇᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴇɴᴛᴇʀ ɪꜰ ʏᴏᴜ’ᴅ ʟɪᴋᴇ ᴛᴏ ᴇɴɢᴀɢᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ ᴛʜᴇ ꜱᴘᴀᴄᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜᴏᴜᴛ ᴍᴇᴇᴛɪɴɢ ᴍᴇ ɪɴ ɪᴛ ❁
Open to the public by appointment only. The gallery will be divided into two spaces: an Erotic Labor Reading Room, and an Incall.
To visit the Erotic Labor Reading Room, individuals and pairs will make 45-minute appointments via Recess’ Calendly.
To visit the artist’s Incall space—partitioned but visible from the Reading Room—individuals will make appointments through encrypted communication with a Recess staff person via Signal. To make an appointment you may contact Recess via Signal at 917-426-4408. The Incall holds a bed, art objects, and the artist herself. Prospective visitors will be expected to provide the following information in their initial query:
1) Their full name
2) The desired date and duration of their potential visit
3) Health screening information
Sophia Giovannitti’s performance work Untitled (Incall) interrogates the material overlap between the art and sex industries to address the ambivalent labor identity of cultural producers. The artist will turn half of the Recess gallery into an incall, a space of transaction of services between the artist and the visitor. The incall project and its accompanying workshops and screenings underscore the conditions of self-commodity under capitalism and the realist strategies needed to navigate its deterritorialized economy.
Untitled (Incall) formally references Andrea Fraser’s performance video Untitled (2003), in which Fraser filmed herself having sex with an art collector to complete a contractual agreement for an art acquisition; he purchased the resulting sex tape for, reportedly, $20,000. Giovannitti, however, relocates the work into the register of labor precarity and informal marketplaces. While Fraser used the metaphor of prostitution to comment on extractive, fantasy-based relationships between artists and collectors, Giovannitti directs her audience toward the actual, circular flow of capital: to make a living wage, so many young artists sell sex to the hyper-wealthy, before becoming institutionally established enough to sell their art to these very same clients. Giovannitti wagers that the “buyers” are quite literally one and the same; the purchase of erotic labor from precarious, emerging artists funds much of the individual cultural production in New York City today. In turn, positioning one’s sex work as art is a lucrative and legally self-protective choreography—a choreography only available to those with institutional access, contingent on race, gender, and class position.
Giovannitti will invite a collector to commission a performance art piece from her for a fee of $20,000, to take place at her Recess incall after hours. In industry terms, an incall is a space a sex worker maintains to host her clients. Giovannitti’s collector will receive only a paper certificate of ownership for the single performance commissioned from the artist, private and unrecorded; in place of a public-facing image, there is merely the movement of money.
During public gallery hours, Giovannitti’s incall will be open to visitors without payment, by appointment only. Options exist to book appointments hourly, or overnight, at the artist’s discretion. The second half of the gallery will house an Erotic Labor Reading Room, filled with literature by and for sex workers, harm reduction supplies, and space to rest. The Reading Room provides a space designed for those engaged in erotic labor, without requiring the outing of one’s particular labor identity, or lack thereof, to enter.
In April 2018, the legislation SESTA/FOSTA forced the immediate shut-down of most websites advertising the sale of sex, stripping sex workers of the ability to safely and effectively screen clients. The Eros Guide remains one of few operational websites hosting escort ads; in addition to being prohibitively expensive, many speculate Eros cooperates with the US government in prostitution stings and border control. In conversation with criminalization, surveillance, and the pressure to perform one’s authenticity when making art from a politicized identity, Giovannitti will post an Eros ad soliciting a patron to commission her after hours performance.
Untitled (Incall) will be accompanied by a series of public offerings, and an option for mail-in participation for those in need of safer-sex, self-defense, and harm reduction supplies. The criminalization of sex work endangers workers and pushes information-sharing on workplace safety to the margins; Giovannitti and her collaborators operate from an autonomous, anti-police framework. She will host a digital panel discussion on the insecure conditions structuring the sale of both creative and erotic labor, and an offsite, outdoor harm reduction skill-sharing workshop, providing kits designed for drug-using sex workers. Giovannitti’s closing event will feature a screening of her new short film, In Heaven: An Alternate Reality Game, starring herself and the artist Tourmaline. Tourmaline will join her for a discussion on the use of advertising to disrupt and aestheticize the boundary between the art and sex industries. You’ll find event registration links on the left side of this page.
Sophia Giovannitti’s Untitled (Incall) is part of Recess’s program, Session, which invites artists to use Recess’s public platform to combine productive studio space with dynamic exhibition opportunities. Sessions remain open to the public from the first day of the artist’s project through the last, encouraging sustained dialogue between artists and audiences. Due to the process-based nature of Session, projects undergo constant revision and the above proposal is subject to change.
About the Artist
Sophia Giovannitti is an artist who lives in New York. She studies the commodification of parts of ourselves we hold dear, positing, from a materialist perspective, that there is no way out but through. Her work exists in this through-space of sale, scam, and reflection.
In addition to performance, she creates photography, video, and essays, writing and directing her own work. Her pieces have appeared most recently in The New Inquiry, SSENSE, and n+1. Her first book, Working Girl: Art and Sex Under Capitalism, is forthcoming from Verso in 2023.
She is open to commission and solicitation.
Recess is supported, in part, by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council; The Horace Goldsmith Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; Art for Justice Fund, Art Matters, The Jill and Peter Kraus Foundation, The David Teiger Foundation, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, The Cy Twombly Foundation, The Fox Aarons Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Blavatnik Family Foundation, The Luce Foundation, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund, Robert Lehman Foundation, The Destina Foundation, Pinkerton Foundation, ELMA Philanthropies, Laurie M Tisch Illumination Fund, The Salomon Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Prospect Hill Foundation, Powerhouse Environmental Arts Foundation, The Willem de Kooning Foundation, and The Tikkum Olam Foundation. In-kind support is provided by Materials for the Arts.