The Exhibition Sex and the Sea: Loneliness, longing for intimacy and passion among seafarers


A pin-up girl’s picture on a cabin wall speaks of longing during an excruciatingly slow ocean voyage. Feelings of loneliness, longing for intimacy, homesickness and sexual desire ‒ constant conflicting companions of seafarers on the long voyages. The exhibition illustrates sailors’ fantasies during long sea voyages and the reality that awaited in port. It describes life at home and at sea, deep emotions and physical needs. The sensual exhibition experience has been created by the Dutch installation artist Saskia Boddeke and British film director Peter Greenaway.

Since time immemorial, sailors have been crossing the oceans and staying for long periods away from home. Under such circumstances, many things can be controlled, but not human sexuality. Sex and the Sea is a story about life at ports, filled with red lights, prostitutes and wild trips to the bars. It leads the visitor on a journey of discovery among exotic souvenirs, suitcases full of secrets, figureheads and mermaids. The exhibition also questions the notion of solely masculine, heterosexual sailors – after all, do sailors only dream of women?

An art film, produced by top artists Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway, forms the core of the exhibition. In the film, sailors give an honest account of their experiences and freedom at sea revealing a lifestyle that landlubbers might find odd and despicable. Visitors are also invited to consider their own set of norms. Is it guided by peer pressure or the rules on what is legal and what is not? Far away from home, the norms might be different. Will the sailor give in to his needs in an unfamiliar harbour? Does the lonely sailor have a girl in every port?

The dusky and sensual atmosphere of the exhibition remains vivid in the visitor’s mind even in bright daylight. Previously on display in Rotterdam, Stockholm and Helsingör, Sex and the Sea will be open at Maritime Centre Vellamo from 15 June 2018 to 20 January 2019.

Further information
Curator Erik Tirkkonen,, tel. +358 295 33 6494

Media images

Maritime Centre Vellamo, Tornatorintie 99, Kotka
Opening hours
From 1 January until 24 June and 13 August until 31 December 2018: Tue, Thu–Sun 10 am–5 pm, Wed 10 am–8 pm
From 25 June until 12 August 2018: Mon–Tue, Thu–Sun 10 am–6 pm, Wed 10 am–8 pm
tel. +358 40 350 0497,