Breaking taboos and lifting the veil of ignorance will be the shining light in a world fighting to remain in darkness. The scope and popularity of the porn industry cannot be understated. As the co-founder and creative director of the Porn Film Festival in Vienna, as well as the creative director at the Transition International Queer & Minorities Film Festival, Jasmin Hagendorfer has approached this sometimes awkward and uncomfortable topic with confidence and spunk.
Having studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Jasmin explored the relationship between bodies and politics, socioeconomic discourses, and gender identity. By taking an artistic approach to the topic with sculptures and installations, she focused on how online porn platforms function and extensively researched the systems behind them. Her interest in the topic lead to her involvement in co-founding the Porn Film Festival as an open creative space five years ago.
“We are not only concerned with depicting porn,” she told the Sonophilia Foundation. “We see the festival as an open platform to discuss, to reflect, to think about pornography, of course, but also sexuality, sexual identity, bodies, politics. This platform gives people a chance to see different things. One of our main goals is to break the monotony of boring, cheesy mainstream porn. There is so much out there, so much alternative porn, good porn, feminist porn, queer porn, fair trade porn, and it doesn’t matter how you name it.”
In addition to the explicit content showcased, the festival, which recently ran from April 20 through the 24th, has quite an extensive and diverse program, with lectures, workshops, documentaries, feature films, and an art exhibition. The point, Jasmin explained, is to offer as many different perspectives as possible. In her TedTalk on the topic, Jasmin defined good porn, or ethical porn, as providing good working conditions for those on set, fair payment for those involved in the production, precise agreements on what is shot, and an emphasis on hygiene and health. She suggests sex ecology, or ecosexuality as one of the major ways that sex can help save the world.
“[My main interest is] sustainability. We are so concentrated on everything being better, being more sustainable and trying to make our planet a better place, but when it comes to consumption, quite a lot of people don’t think about porn. They use it, they watch it, they consume it, but there is no thinking into it…[Sex ecology is] a way to get involved with nature, with yourself as a human being… but it can also mean having sustainable products, sustainable sex toys, a new way of thinking concerning our bodies and our sexualities.”
While it is important to be aware of what we consume, Jasmin admitted it’s not always an easy task, as the average user doesn’t know where to look for ethical porn. She explained that safe working conditions, fair payments, and other essential aspects of any working environment are rare on the free online porn sites, where much of the material is uploaded illegally and shot under abysmal conditions. Jasmin stressed that free porn offers a “safe place” and can be a “room for possibilities,” but that it must have regulations and a positive vibe around it.
“The energy usage of mainstream porn of online platforms, all the products we use, they have an ecological footprint. Everything is produced. Of course, this also is the same for sex toys, hygiene products, the garments we wear, and the porn we use. This also has to be considered if you really think about future times, about really giving our planet a chance to survive and ourselves a chance to survive on that planet.”
Sex and creativity go hand in hand. Sex increases satisfaction, promotes self-care, and helps normalize desires; in short, Jasmin believes diverse porn can lead to more acceptance within society. As the creative director of a porn film festival, she knows a thing or two about what goes into creating interesting erotic storylines. While porn is highly concerned with arousal and having fun with our bodies, she noted that it’s not solely about depicting sexuality.
The possibilities for filmmaking in this realm are endless. The porn film festival’s inherent categories for short film programs exemplify this notion. While many of these categories align with the classical sexual identities, they also try to create new kinds of entertaining porn short programs, as well as activist topics. For example, Jasmin highlighted a dark temptation porn short, which is all about dark desires and horror aspects, as well as experimental, art, and politically-driven porn shorts, including those that discuss climate change.
“I think porn is always political. It depicts all the problems we have within a society, like racism, sexism, misogyny, you name it… It’s so present and so necessary to talk about climate change, to talk about the earth in crisis, to talk about sustainability, all these things that we as a society have to rely on now… I think this gives a good insight into how we work as a festival, but also how creativity [is exercised] in the festival.”
One of Jasmin’s main goals in life is “to challenge prejudices and stereotypes,” and her new international startup, a crowdfunding platform called Peaches and Cream, is a step towards achieving just that. This platform promotes body-positive, porn positive, and sex-positive projects, and gives people a chance to showcase their own creative endeavors.
Her foray into the Sonophilia Foundation came when she attended an event two years ago as a plus one with Johannes Grenzfurthner, another Sonophilian, artist, filmmaker, and researcher. Not knowing what to expect from the network, she was pleasantly surprised to find that it complemented her work and interests in more ways than one.
“Sonophilia [Foundation] for me is really about creativity, about exchanging, about trying to build a new future and have goals for that future, to have ideas about how to make the world a better place. It’s about brainstorming and being the ambassadors for those ideas and opinions that come about in talks, in lectures, in workshops we do together.”