Voluntary sex work highlighted as a museum exhibition theme for the first time in Finland
The Helsinki City Museum’s new exhibition Hoes – Voices in Sex Work presents Helsinki from the perspective of sex work. The exhibition aims to diversify the image of Helsinki’s history as well as contemporary Helsinki, to alleviate prejudices related to sex work, and to increase awareness on the topic. The exhibition will be open 11 November 2022–5 March 2023.
The exhibition, opening in November, approaches sex work from the perspectives of the daily lives of sex workers, its various forms and definitions, customers and related activism, as well as society, legislation and history. The exhibition has been prepared in cooperation with sex workers. The content is based on interview and survey data collected from sex workers, their loved ones and customers. Responses were also received from various organisations and experts.
The ‘Hoes– Voices in Sex Work’ exhibition has been produced by Sauli Seppälä and Iisa Aaltonen from Helsinki City Museum. Sexual Educator Terhi Suokas has acted as the curator, and the exhibited artefacts consist mainly of items collected by her. Exhibition visitors get to see, for example, a Christmas calendar put together by sex workers for their customers and extracts from a ‘black list’ of inappropriate customers circulating among sex workers.
Exhibition sheds light on a phenomenon shrouded in mystery
“The exhibition aims to diversify the image of Helsinki’s history as well as contemporary Helsinki, to alleviate prejudices related to sex work, and to increase awareness on the topic. The museum will now shed light on a phenomenon that has been a taboo,” says Sauli Seppälä, one of the exhibition producers.
Compensational sex has enflamed strong moral and ethical values while also being shrouded in mystery. It continues to generate discussion, divide opinion, and to challenge established ideas about sex, work and money as well as how these relate to one another.
“The aim of the City Museum’s changing exhibitions is to highlight the diversity of Helsinki while showcasing thought-provoking content,” says Iisa Aaltonen, the other exhibition producer.
“The exhibition is an excellent example of the changing attitudes of the Finnish society. We are now able to confront issues that have been considered taboos and openly discuss them. We are beginning to see that behind every phenomenon there are always real, ordinary people, who are all entitled to their own voices,” says Terhi Suokas, exhibition curator.
“There are so many intriguing and even funny things associated with sex work that we wanted to showcase a glimpse of it all in the museum. What do broken toy cars or a piece of tow rope have to do with sex work? Visit the exhibition and you will find out,” says Suokas.
The exhibition will be open until 5 March 2023. During the exhibition, the City Museum will also organise related events together with its partners.
Hoes – Voices in Sex Work
11 November 2022–5 March 2023
Helsinki City Museum, 4th floor
Exhibition producers: Sauli Seppälä and Iisa Aaltonen
Exhibition curator: Terhi Suokas
Spatial planning of the exhibition: Jonathan Maxwell
Graphic design for the exhibition: Tero Juuti
Related free events by the City Museum and its partners:
Seireenilaulu ja muita loitsuja (Siren song and other spells) performance and artist meeting
Fri 18 November 2022 at 19:00–20:00
Aleksi Holkko and Hanna-Kaisa Tiainen perform throughout the evening
Wed 23 November 2022 at 17:00–22:00
The Night of Science: Voices in Sex Work
Thu 12 January 2023 at 17:00–19:00