Cirkus Eros – Erotica or Pornography?

Porn or erotica?

Is there – really – a difference between art nudes / erotica / pornography?

First of all, there are NO STRICT DEFINITIONS on what is what.
Everyone has their own idea what is erotica or porn, what is art and what is not.
It is actually really impossible to define this. In one sense, anything that makes a person sexually aroused can be defined as pornography. In another sense, anything that is intended to make a person sexually aroused can be defined as pornography.

To me, pornography is just another word for erotica. There is really no difference. Erotic art has to be pornographic in order to be erotic – and pornography has to be erotic in order to be sexually arousing. If there are any differences, they lie in technical and artistic quality – but the content is really the same – and often the purpose of the picture as well. Even the most glamorous pin-up, with high artistic and technical quality, can be made primarily in order to sexually arouse the onlooker. Then it is by definition pornographic. My point is that porn is not necessarily a bad thing.

So I really don’t give a shit.

I make pictures I like. Some people will regard it as porn, as well as some will regard it fine erotic art. That’s their business. I don’t care. I do what I love. The rest is just a matter of taste and personal opinion.

I also resist this common degrading of the lonely wanker. Why is it still regarded as so humiliating and degraded to masturbate? What’s really the problem with someone seeing a nice erotic picture, getting excited, and wanking to it?
Why is that bad?

I don’t understand or accept this enormous fear of sexuality.
I don’t understand or accept the idea that one has to apologize if a picture may be ”offensive” – just because it pictures an erect penis, and someone playing with it.
Whats wrong with that?

What could possibly define a certain difference between erotic art and pornography, is that in erotic art there is also an artistic intent, a desire to do more than just arouse the hormones – there may be an intention to actually tell a story, or to show an emotion, to let the model/models remain a subject rather than object, make an interesting statement that goes beyond the wanker stimulation level. But that would make films by Michael Ninn or Andrew Blake NOT porn, but erotic art. Are they, are they not?

Let’s just, for argument’s sake, say that everything that is erotic, is pornographic.

There is erotica/pornography that is good art, and there is erotica/pornography that is not. So I think we should always discuss the artistic qualities of pictures, without trying to judge whether it is porn or not. Because we will NEVER EVER agree completely on this. Pictures of sexual penetration, for example – is that art, erotica or pornography? Can it be each and one of these categories? Does it really matter?

Let’s say for argument’s sake that we call ALL pictures art. Picture art. No matter whether it is erotic or anything else. Then we judge pictures on the basis of quality. Artistic quality and technical quality. And the most important of them all – to what extent a picture really touches me, engages me emotionally. That is to me the most important.

Let me show some examples from my own production:


These are pictures of couples making love, and you can clearly see the penetration act. Personally, I love these pictures. I find them arousing, emotional, artistic and loaded with love – not only lust. And I don’t really care if some people think of them as ”porn”. I think that those who regard these images as ”porn”, and dislike them therefore, are very afraid of sex, that’s all.

So what do we say about fellatio or cunnulingus – oral sex? Is that automatically pornographic, or can it be artistic – or both? Can a blowjob be art?


What do you think of these? Are they porn or not?
– No, don’t answer that question! 🙂
Are they artistic or not? Do they touch you? Do you feel something other than just sexual desire by watching these pictures? And… if all you feel is sexual desire – does it really matter? Does that diminish the quality of the pictures?

And here’s a couple of women masturbating. Just see how absorbed by themselves they are – they are not posing! I see my art as subjectifying the models, rather than objectifying them, and that will of course ad a particular quality and uniqueness to the pictures. But that’s of course also just my personal opinon.

Masturbating women

Lingam & Yoni – here are two direct depictions of human genitalia – a powerful and beautiful cock (penis, lingam) as well as what I regard as a beautiful, beautiful pussy (vulva, yoni)… Can such explicit pictures be art? Well, it worked for Gustave Courbet back in 1866, when he painted L’Origine du monde, which i sreally a close up of a pussy. So – was that porn, or erotic art?


What is art? What is porn? What is what, and when, and how?
Do you realize what an absolutely impossible discussion this is? So I have to raise a very important question.

I have experienced that my images has caused a lot of turmoil on some photo forum websites. From an artistic viewpoint I of course take that as a compliment. Makes it worthwhile to be an artist – I can still upset people, and more still – raise hot and important questions in people’s heads.

What is truly amazing in our ”modern” society is that generally, it is O.K. to show heavily graphic pictures of people that are maimed, dead or dying, killing or maiming, violence of all sorts, and the result of violence of all sorts. Blood, guts and brain substance splattered over the walls has become mainstream. But it is not encouraged to show erotic images. Anywhere. Why?

People often refer to the protection of the children, but I think this is often exaggerated, and out of focus. There are absolutely no scientific studies that support that children will be harmed by seeing adults naked (quite the contrary, in fact!), or even seeing adults having sex. There are, however, many studies that support the fact that children are harmed if they see violence.

I am so FUCKING TIRED of this strange idea that children constantly needs to be protected from sex, as if sex in itself is a very dangerous thing. Of course I am NOT suggesting pedophilia, sex with children – that is a different thing, and I am not in any way condoning it. But just seeing people have sex, or just being naked – I really don’t understand why this is regarded as so incredibly dangerous and harmful.

My kids grew up going to our local nude beach in the summer, and they loved it, also in their teens. They all preferred this before any regular beach. There are many families doing the same, and I find that this is very healthy in many ways. Physically, of course, but also emotionally and mentally. The children learns how different people look without their clothes, that nudity is not necessarily always sexual, that beauty is to be found everywhere and in everyone. And they learn to appreciate themselves, not having to carry a lot of shame in their bodies. And there are many wholesome families who are naturists, spending summer vacations totally in the nude.

I do not agree with the often practiced mandatory 18 year limit is relevant for my pictures. I actually think that most 13-14 year old girls and boys, entering into puberty, could gain a lot by seeing pictures lke these. It can be both exciting AND a learning experience, for both girls and boys to be inspired to explore and learn about their own sexuality.

We all know that most teenagers are very interested in porn – of course, because they are walking hormone bombs, needing guidance, knowledge and inspiration about sex. But do they get it in porn? Maybe a little, little bit – but the mainstream porn is still highly inadequate. It is by no means enough.

Children need a good sexual education, in order to avoid the worst pitfalls, of course, but also in order for them to be able to enjoy sex, love and relationships in the best possible way. Sex education should not be all about the DANGERS of sex – a good sex education should be more focused on how to ENJOY sex, with as little risk or damage as possible. And for this, good teachers, good texts and good pictures are needed.

Personally, I use to compare sex to fire. Fire isn’t ”good” or ”bad” – fire can give warmth and light, and we can create fantastic things with fire. We can cook, we can melt glass, cultivate metal, and more. And fire can – when we have no control over it – devour everything, destroy whole houses, villages, cities, forests. It can kill us, and it can give life.
Sex is the same. Used with knowledge and consciousness, it is the greatest of divine gifts – and used badly, abusive, un-conscious of consequences, it can cause damage.

So, instead of constantly warning everyone from sex as something inherently bad (a result of christian church moral), or something that is always wonderful and fantastic (naive and over-romantic), maybe we should view sex from a more neutral position.

Maybe then we can make the right choices.

© Carl Johan Rehbinder

Porr eller erotik?


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