In the strange world of performance art, controversy is welcomed as readily as applause. One upcoming exhibit, however, is accused by some of taking things too far.
According to Gawker, Clayton Pettet -- a gay second-year art student at London’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design -- plans to stage a performance art piece entitled “Art School Stole My Virginity,” in which Pettet and a friend will engage in gay sex in front of a live audience.
"The key thing about performance art is that it should only be performed once, and this is the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime performance,” Pettet, 19, told Huffington Post UK. “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.”
The show will be followed by a Q&A session, where Pettet will ask the audience if it can sense any change in his partner’s attitude toward him, Gawker said.
"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," Pettet said.
Pettet expects an audience of between 50 to 100 people to attend the “performance,” which is set to take place on Jan. 25, 2014 at an art space in Hackney, London.
The student hasn’t yet told his parents, but his teachers at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design are aware of his plans.
Meanwhile, not everybody is pleased with Pettet’s upcoming performance art piece. "I'm not quite sure how that's art,” Rev. Sharon Ferguson, spokesperson for the Lesbian Gay and Christian Movement, told Huffington Post UK. “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,” Ferguson said. “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."
On his Tumblr page for “Art School Stole My Virginity,” Pettet says his performance art piece is something sorely needed in the art scene in London.
“Whilst London is in its prime and is constantly changing the contemporary artists are the same and they aren’t so contemporary anymore,” Pettet said. “I want my piece to inject some speed into the arts, a performance of the people if you will. I feel like now is the time for the new scene. To lose my Virginity with the new age is the Avant Garde that London has been unintentionally waiting for.”