Clayton Pettet, a 19-year-old St Martins art student, is planning to publicly lose his anal virginity. The one-time-only performance art piece is entitled “Art School Stole My Virginity” and will involve Pettet engaging in safe anal sex on stage to a live audience at an art space in Central London.
In context of this piece, Clayton Pettet explains on his personal Tumblr page that he is questioning the concept of virginity. For the artist, virginity itself becomes more and more complex and abstract, first for women but more so once, we begin to consider the concept of virginity or losing virginity for men and also for all sexual relations, i.e male& male and female & female. For this, the artist considers virginity to be ‘heteronormative’. Clayton Pettet proposes that his one of performance will explore this concept in the most innovative and intimate ways possible.
Clayton Pettet has approached the project from a personal perspective looking back to when he was sixteen coming to terms with the idea of his virginity. He is fascinated with how the value of a virgin has changed from being valued to how it can now dictate the whys of which people think of you.
Over the last week, the performance piece has been the topic of critical discussion. Tabloids seem to have divided between questioning if this can be labeled as art and the connection between such a project and the contemporary art world, and there has been a more provocative approach in questioning the act of having sex live to an audience.
As response to such typical headlines as ‘Gay art student sparks outrage with plan to lose his virginity in front of audience’, the artist claims that it proves his point about sex and virginity. He refers the fact that people seem to be separating between a gay virgin and a heterosexual and sees such headlines as separating sex from the norm insinuating it is not normal.
In commenting about his project in terms of the contemporary art world, he seems to be amazed at the coverage but at the same time it successful influences discussions about contemporary art and follows on to say ‘You have the same artists, you get huge artists getting paid the same massive cheque to present in London again and again’ . In his personal Tumblr blog, of which he has chosen to document is process of the project, he considers the London art scene to be slow whilst London is at its prime. He would like his piece to inject some speed into the arts, something that some critic may see as ambitious or as a bold move or perhaps something that has been done before.
Clayton Pettet ends his conversation with Dazed magazine by clearly stating:
‘I’m doing this piece for me, I’m not doing it as a gimmick, I’m not doing it for press. The reason I’m doing interviews is so I can make myself clear that I don’t want celebrity status or money. I just want to do this art piece, I don’t mind how or where I do it, I just want it to be done’.