In activism we’re mostly focused on challenging that which oppresses, disrupting the status quo and provoking the powers that be. But what comes afterward? In the city of Amsterdam, window workers are facing the threat of eviction from their historical neighbourhood: De Wallen. In the meantime, Dutch national policies endanger the anonymity of all sex workers, by storing their information publicly in an online database. Despite the Netherlands’ comparatively liberal stance on sex work, the city and nationwide policy seem to only further criminalise the profession, which continues to jeopardize the health, safety and legal protections of sex workers. To counter this reality, we’ll playfully imagine a just future together. As playing enables us to step outside of the way our minds have been wired. How can we reimagine the Red Light District? What are alternatives to the Erotic Centre? How can we decriminalise sex work? Let’s picture the future of sex work as an act of resistance in itself.
About the programme
This session is the last programme of a three-part series, called ‘Speak to your imagination’, in which we will playfully consider how our society can be shaped differently. Do not expect a standard panel but a conversation in which everyone can participate. The interactive part of the programme is optional. If you only want to listen, you can.
Each speaker is a sex worker and will discuss one historical, current or imaginative case that, for them, embraces the future of sex work. By implementing the word ‘whore’ strategically and in reclamation here (much like how in recent years ‘queer’ has largely been reclaimed), we hope to investigate the valuable knowledge that lies in looking through sex worker perspectives and experiences.
About the speakers
Nat Portnoy (she/her) is a multidisciplinary queer artist, filmmaker and activist born in Poland, based in the Netherlands. Nat is working with mediums such as video, installation, object, photography and painting. Her projects are based on theories of sociocultural construction. She is interested in examining the cognitive processes of pleasure, exploring its connotations with self-representation, identity, ritual and the complexity of language used to determine desire. In her artistic practice she likes to refer to existing ideologies and beliefs, examining it through the knowledge of a collective and personal experience.
Leslie (she/her) is a trans-woman and human rights activist for political asylum seekers, trans rights, LGBTQIA+ and queer community. She’s a member of the Papaya Kuir Collective and a volunteer for the Trans House in Amsterdam.
About the moderator
Chandler Smith (they/them) is an advocate and organiser for sex workers’ rights, they currently lives in Amsterdam’s De Wallen neighborhood. Over the last three years, they have been an active organiser within Berlin-based, worker-led initiatives including Trans*sexworks and the Sex Worker Action Group Berlin. They moderated the demonstration for International Day for Sex Workers Rights on June 2 2023. They have also worked alongside Berlin’s unionised Sex Worker-Section as an active support. Most recently, Smith coordinated the Sex Worker’s Day with Queer and Pride Amsterdam 2023 and has since started their own foundation for sex working artists, called HXSSY. Currently, Chandler is a member of Sex Workers Against Violence and Exploitation (SAVE) and a member at the Prostitution Information Center (PIC). Chandler holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Wells College (Aurora, NY) and they are finishing their Master of Arts in Amerikanistik at Humboldt Universität in Berlin