Porno op papier @ Museum Meermanno

‘Porn on paper: Taboo and Tolerance Through the Ages’ can be seen at the Museum Meermanno in The Hague from 22 March through 24 June 2018.

House of the Book, a joint initiative of Museum Meermanno and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), the national library of the Netherlands, will present an exhibition this spring ‘Porn on paper. Taboo and tolerance through the ages’.  In this exhibition at Museum Meermanno, the exciting, yet mostly hidden, story of Dutch pornography will be brought to life. By means of hundreds of books, magazines and podcasts the visitor will experience the relationship between pornography and society. The back and forth movements between taboo and tolerance, openness and secrecy are recurring themes throughout the centuries. This is not only the history of arousing and forbidden texts and illustrations, but also that of the influence of the church and political institutions, of criticism, legislation and censorship and the struggle against those powers.  The exhibition is open to visitors 18 years and older.

Image from Onder de Toonbank, Pornografie en Erotica in de Nederlanden
Images from old books like this can be seen at the exhibition

Criticizing those in power

At the end of the seventeenth century Amsterdam was known as the ‘sex shop of Europe’ and was where erotica undermining authority was published for the entire continent.  Around 1900, partly because of the development of new printing techniques and photography, there was a huge increase in the sale of new, more realistic literature under the proverbial counter.  The government reacted with the strict morality law of 1911.

Sexual revolution

The government only became less strict during the sexual revolution of the 1960s.  An important milestone was the Chick ruling of 1970 in which the Supreme Court stated that the Netherlands no longer objected to pornography.  This paved the way for making pornography a mainstream industry.

Gandalf Magazine
Chick Magazine

The current situation

Since then there has been a lot of talk about the ‘pornification’ of society.  Some people think that we have entered a new era of prudishness and that the gains made in the 1960s are being eroded.  Others see a constructive correction of the morals of the 1960s which essentially resulted in much more freedom for men than for women.  At the same time, there has been a trend in producing pornography specifically aimed at women: books like Fifty shades of grey; periodicals such as Oh Magazine (sensual delights for women) and so-called porna.  The discussion about sexism and the subjugation of women, and the role pornography plays in these matters, is given full attention.

What is there to see?

Many unknown publications are being exhibited for the first time, such as pornographic material that was confiscated by the Rotterdam police in the 1930s.  Also being shown are books like the seventeenth century De doorluchtige daden van Jan Stront, the eighteenth century social criticism Het gestoorde naaypartijdje van Willem de Ve and explicit twentieth century books and magazines such as Ik Jan Cremer, Chick, Gandalf and Playboy.  In spite of strict laws and enforcement efforts, a lot of material has been preserved in libraries and by private collectors.  The makers of the exhibition could take full advantage of the extensive Sliggers collection which was transferred in February to the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB), the national library of the Netherlands.  Bert Sliggers, former curator at the Teylers Museum, is guest curator of the exhibition.

Porno op papier @ Museum Meermanno
Image from Onder de Toonbank, Pornografie en Erotica in de Nederlanden

The accompanying book Onder de Toonbank, Pornografie en Erotica in de Nederlanden can be purchased from here.

In addition to the Porno Op Papier there is also the exhibition, ‘Sex only. Max Kisman Diary documents 1987- 2017′
10 April through 10 June 2018

Designer and illustrator Max Kisman (Doetinchem, 1953) made his reputation as a pioneer in the use of digital technology in graphic design. In a career spanning almost forty years, he has worked for clients such as Paradiso, VPRO television, the Volkskrant and the Financieele Dagblad in addition to teaching typography and illustration.

*Text taken from Museum Meermanno