Art is important and vaginas are important. Here are three important vaginal art pieces that say as much about contemporary art as they do about society:
- Casey Jenkins—Casting Off My Womb
This Australian artist spent a month in an art gallery knitting from wool stored in her vaginal tunnel. After receiving overwhelming internet backlash, she responded by saying that “Commentators seem to be genuinely outraged that I would dare to do something that they view as strange and repulsive with my body without displaying shame. Women putting themselves forward in any capacity in the world is frowned upon, and for a woman to put herself forward in a way that is not designed to be attractive or pleasing is downright seditious.” I for one think that not only is the piece clever feminist commentary, but that the resulting woollen “scarf” holds in itself high in artistic merit. Impossible to ever exactly replicate again, the period-blood patterned wool is a completely original and organic creation that is better to look at than most things in galleries these days.
- Rokudenashi-ko a.k.a Megumi Igarashi—Pussy Boat
This Japanese artist made her vagina open source by publishing its 3D data online. She also used the data to 3D-print her own canoe, and for these activities she has spent time in jail on obscenity charges. On her charges she says, “the fact that I was arrested for this at all shows that Japan is still very backwards about women’s sexual expression, that it is not acknowledged at all except as something for men’s pleasure”; and on her work, “the vagina is ridiculed. It’s lusted after. Men don’t see women as equals—to them, women are just vaginas. Then they call my vagina-themed work ‘obscene’, and judge me according to laws written by and for men.” She is currently on trial where she faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to ¥2.5m. You can help support her by visiting her store (http://ganka.buyshop.jp/) where she sells products such as glow in the dark vagina characters.
- Deborah de Robertis—Mirror of Origin
This Luxembourgian artist sat in front of Gustave Courbet’s The Origin of the World, spread her legs apart and displayed her own vagina to cheers, applause, and disgruntled security staff. Courbet’s painting itself was, and still is, controversial. It shattered homogenous European painting tradition by actually including pubic hair, a symbol of sexual power. As John Berger writes, “the woman’s sexual passion needs to be minimised so that the spectator may feel that he has the monopoly of such passion. Women are there to feed an appetite, not to have any of their own.” De Robertis builds on top of this conversation, unflinchingly displaying herself to all spectators—her gaze is not welcoming or coy like that of the classical female nude, but daringly confrontational.
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