A gay teen planning to lose his virginity ‘in the name of art’ has chosen a central London venue for his ‘exhibit’.
Art student Clayton Pettet, 19, said he will have sex for the first time at the Orange Dot gallery in Bloomsbury for a project called ‘Art School Stole My Virginity’.
The Central Saint Martins art school student, who has been planning the project for three years, described it as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime performance’.
Writing on his Tumblr page, he said: ‘When all my peers at school were losing their virginity it was incredibly hard for me to ask why I was still a virgin and why it meant so much to the people all around me.
‘My piece isn’t a statement as much as it is a question. The whole aspect of virginity was incredibly emotional for me and has been ever since.’
Pettet, who will be losing his virginity in front of an audience of around 100 people, hopes to challenge the idea of sexuality.
Him and a friend will engage in safe sex and afterwards will engage in a question and answer session with the audience about the experience.
The young artist has faced backlash from people who believe what he is doing is not art and is cheapening sexual relationships.
But is it art? Acclaimed Birmingham-based gay artist Hannah Honeywill told Gay Star News if Pettet says it is art, especially in the context of a gallery, then it is art. But she didn’t know whether it was ‘good art’.
‘It’s an interesting thing for a gay man to do as virginity is such a heteronormative term,’ she said.
‘In straight relationships it is female virginity that is the precious thing, a pure thing relating to Christianity.
‘As gay people we can happily sidestep all of that. We don’t have to conform to those heterosexual rules.
‘Then I wonder, is he actually losing his virginity?’
Honeywill added she felt Pettet could comment on sexuality and virginity by doing something far more subtle and could have bigger impact.
‘When you’re in the art world, naked bodies having sex? It’s not new. The sexual body is pretty standard stuff. I don’t think it’s shocking.
‘I admire the statement, but it is a bit of a shame.’
Alex Schady, Programme Director of Fine Art, Central Saint Martins, told The Daily Mail: ‘Clayton Pettet’s project is not part of his course and has not been endorsed by Central Saint Martins.
‘Staff are discussing with him the implications, both legal and emotional, of the performance and he is exploring the possibility of alternative means of expression.’