From Lexi Manatakis’ article about the exhibition “Rough Trade: Art and Sex Work in the Late 20th Century” for DAZED:
Morrisroe’s trajectory is a symbol for how art and sex work intertwined at the time – the subject of New York gallery ClampArt’s latest show Rough Trade: Art and Sex Work in the Late 20th Century. Artists who needed money to survive, like Morrisroe and Aids activist David Wojnarowicz, commonly turned to hustling as a way of life, while others who were immersed in America’s far-reaching sexual subcultures, like photographers Larry Clark and Philip Lorca diCorcia, documented their surroundings from the outside.
“The symbols, imagery, and iconography of those directly involved in the sex industry offer a special window into the times,” explains the show’s co-curator Greg Ellis. “That being said (for those not directly involved in hustling) many artists during these decades found themselves closely positioned to friends and colleagues with histories of sex work. Their perspectives are vital records of this rapidly shifting landscape where art and sex were entering into popular culture. Artists, like sex workers, tend to find themselves marginalised on the fringes of society. I believe this outsider status brings a familiarity and authenticity to the subject.”