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After Sex
Institute of Contemporary Arts
A sketch of a nude person using a computer keyboard and monitor which is displaying foetus inside a womb
Kelly, A, 1992, Virtual Speculum [cartoon]

An evening of discussions exploring why abortion, reproductive justice and bodily autonomy remain essential to collective freedoms.

Who decides what happens after sex? What use is fair pay if childbearing and child-rearing prevents you from working? What might reproductive freedom, healthcare, childcare and sexual liberation look like in the future?

The last decade has seen an insidious rise in the criminalisation of abortions and diminishing bodily autonomy across the world, culminating in the dissolution of Roe v. Wade in the US. In the UK, data from period-tracking apps could be used in abortion-related prosecutions, and British healthcare providers warn that police are testing those who have suffered miscarriages for abortion pills. Today, reproductive freedom remains to be pursued – without shame and without apology.

Beyond personal choice, reproductive justice is situated within wider struggles: the control and criminalisation of abortion most affects people of colour, immigrants, people with disabilities and those living in poverty, who will also be at greatest risk from the denial of medical care, the psychological and physical harms of forced pregnancy and unassisted miscarriage.

The editors of After Sex (Silver Press, 2023), Edna Bonhomme and Alice Spawls are joined by playwright Beth Steel, journalist Sian Norris and award-winning writer Laurie Nunn, creator of the hit Netflix series Sex Education, as they delve into personal, political and cultural perspectives on abortion and reproductive justice, highlighting the experiences of people of colour and working class people through essay, poetry and politics in a discussion moderated by ICA Talks & Research curator Susanna Davies-Crook.

The Silver Press series continues across the weekend of 1, 2 & 3 Dec with events including After Sex on screen with Club des Femmes, Fugitive Feminism with Iniva and we shape ourselves with the force of each other.
Over the course of a week and four events, ICA and Silver Press examine freedom through the lenses of collective liberation, bodily autonomy, reproductive justice and feminism.

Edna Bonhomme is a historian of science, editor, and cultural writer living in Berlin, Germany. Her essays have appeared in Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The London Review of Books, The Nation and elsewhere. Edna earned a PhD in the History of Science from Princeton University and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s in Biology from Reed College. Her book Captive Contagions (One Signal/Simon & Schuster, 2023) examines the role that confinement has played in fostering and hindering epidemics.

Laurie Nunn is an award winning writer of film, television and theatre. She was born in London and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She studied writing and directing at the VCA School of Film and TV in Melbourne, and then completed an MA in screenwriting at the National Film and Television School in the UK. Laurie’s first play King Brown was workshopped at the National Theatre Studio and went on to win a Judges award at the 2017 Bruntwood Prize. She is the creator of the hit Netflix series Sex Education which recently streamed its fourth and final season.

Sian Norris is a writer and investigative journalist who has covered far-right movements and their relocation to the mainstream for a range of publications, including the UK’s Byline Times and openDemocracy. Norris is a leading voice in the UK feminist movement and her writing on issues ranging from men's violence against women, to migrant rights, and poverty and inequality, has been published in the Guardian, New Statesman, the i, and many more publications. In 2012 she set up the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival, which she ran for eight years.

Alice Spawls is co-editor of the London Review of Books and a publisher at Silver Press.

Beth Steel is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Her fifth play Till the Stars Come Down will open at the National Theatre in January 2024. Her next play Wonderland won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Wonderland was broadcast live worldwide through the Guardian website and has since had multiple sold-out regional productions. Beth’s fourth play The House of Shades opened at the Almeida Theatre, London, in 2022. She was the National Theatre’s Writer in Residence and has screen projects in development with The Forge and Fable Pictures.

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Still from ‘Sex Education’ season 1. Image: Netflix
‘Thank God For Abortion’, Viva Ruiz, from the RISD Library Zine Collection, 2017