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“Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?”

IN ONE OF THE MANY VITRINES of books and ephemera installed at Oslo’s Office for Contemporary Art Norway during the recent exhibition “Whatever Happened to Sex in Scandinavia?” was a magazine open to Susan Sontag’s essay “Against Interpretation.” The text—which famously closes with the argument that “in place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art”—had been selected as sample reading from a 1964 copy of the Evergreen Review, the American journal famous not only for its illustrious contributors (from Jorge Luis Borges to Malcolm X), but also for its confrontational frankness regarding matters sexual and political. Given the context—an exhibition and research project devoted precisely to the politics of sex in Scandinavian modernity and its resonances in a wider international context—this might seem like a curious choice. For, despite the word erotics, here meant to be read in the

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