Art gallery hosts underground sex club

Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:49pm EST
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VIENNA (Reuters Life!) - A Vienna art gallery has opened a nightly swingers club as part of a two-month project aimed at provoking debate about scandal in art.

The club, housed in the cellar of The Secession art gallery in central Vienna, offers visitors the chance to act out their sexual fantasies in leather and latex and includes a dance floor, body painting and an S&M chamber.

The club opens only after the main exhibits have shut but curious visitors over 18 years of age can walk through the empty, scarlet rooms with black sofas during the day.

Vienna Mayor Michael Haeupl said he did not approve of the club, but noted that outraged politicians and newspapers were playing into the artist's hands.

"An artist's goal is to provoke, and you are all playing along with it," he told a news conference.

The project is the work of Swiss artist Christoph Buechel, who wanted to draw a parallel with the controversy over Gustav Klimt's "Beethoven Frieze" painting, a spokeswoman for the gallery told the Austria Press Agency.

The Klimt painting, which hangs next to the swingers exhibit, provoked uproar at the turn of the last century for the way it depicted nude women. It cannot be viewed when the swingers' club is open.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall and Alexandra Zawadil, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>Guests enjoy the atmosphere in a swingers club at at The Secession art gallery in Vienna late evening February 23, 2010. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer</p>