The Vulva Revival
We were so happy to feature Vicky who presented the project titled, The Vulva Revival, at our event on June 10, 2018! Read more about the project below:
I’m an Australian artist who recently moved to Norway to be with my Norwegian boyfriend! My practice includes contemporary jewellery and sculpture. I’m looking to have my first solo show in Oslo. The following project proposal is part of my PhD application I sent to Oslo Fine Art Academy.
The exploration of the body in contemporary jewellery has been a subject for artistic expression for many artists who have sought awareness back to the body (Cohn, 2012). Artists have used body parts and fragments of the body to express their own ideas on themes such as the value of the body, intimate relationships and the human condition. However, little work has been done on female genitalia within contemporary metal art and jewellery practices. From ancient Greek and Roman times statues of the male nude body saw the penis as heroic and fully revealed, whereas the vulva is smoothed out without a trace of pubic hair or protruding labia (McFadden, 2015). Is this still the case in contemporary art and society today? It seems that female genitalia continues to carry an element of ‘taboo’ in which the word ‘vagina’ (a word which has incorrectly emerged within our linguistic discourse to refer to a woman’s entire genital area) is hard to say because it is a subject difficult to talk about (Braun & Wilkinson, 2001). Thus, the vulva is often seen as shamed, abjected or hidden both linguistically and physically. Did you know the Latin term for vulva is ‘pudenda’ which means ‘that whereof one ought to feel shame’ or ‘shameful part of something’.
I would like to revive the vulva by bringing positive awareness to female genitalia in which the vulva is normalised and fully revealed and celebrated. Inspired by British sculptor Jamie McCartney’s Vagina Wall, my project proposal consists of casting vulvae of women from various backgrounds and age and making them into jewellery pieces; wearable brooches resembling racing cars. I aim to make 20 brooches (20 vulvae = 20 volunteers!) into gold, sterling silver and resin. These racing car vulva brooches will then be exhibited on a model Formula One racetrack!! And wait for it… in shape of a vulva!! Why you might ask? Because it’s crazy and I like crazy! I love putting humour in my work as it helps the audience engage in something they normally find embarrassing to look at and talk about.The idea is to have the audience play with the cars and look at how each vulva is different like our faces and completely normal and that normal ‘labia’ come in all shapes and sizes. It seems having a ‘neat’ vulva has become the cultural norm as seen in many female performers in the adult film industry which has led to an increase in labiaplasty (labia surgery). It is my intention the artwork will help inform both women and men that the vulva is beautiful just the way it is. It is about time for the vulva to be celebrated and normalised and correctly identified by both women and men.
I am currently looking for women volunteers to cast their vulva!
Why does this idea matter to you?
My interest in the body, in particular female genitalia has recently informed the core principles of my art practice in jewellery and sculpture. This is greatly due to the response I received during a group interactive exhibition. The audience had an opportunity to physically engage with my jewellery pieces. When the long neckpiece titled ‘Vroominger!’ (a cast male finger resembling a racing car) was put on by a number of female participants they were quickly horrified when they realised where the forefinger sat on their body (the vulva) and immediately took it off. Others nervously laughed and were happy to quickly hand it over to someone else. The reaction I received from the female audience was most revealing demonstrating we cannot remain passive viewers; our reactions and own desires and bodies are mixed up in these representations (Lusty, 2007). This surprised me and made me question why female genitalia is still considered such an embarrassing topic. If we are too embarrassed to say the word ‘vagina’ what kind of cultural impact does that have on women and society today? More importantly, why are we still incorrectly saying ‘vagina’ instead of ‘vulva’ to refer to a woman’s genital area? This requires further investigation.
How will you idea make Oslo a better place?
In addition the increase of labia surgery from women show there is still a desire to have a ‘normal’ vulva. But what is normal and who makes the rules? I’d like women to become empowered and proud of their female genitalia without feeling ashamed.
Oslo will be seen as a highly progressive city and an exhibition like this will help celebrate and bring positive awareness to female genitalia. This is a socially engaged project in which I hope to enlist as many women as possible from (Oslo and other parts of Norway) to cast their vulva.
How will you use the micro-grant funding to realize your concept?
The micro-grant will help greatly in paying for studio hire and cost of materials that casting requires such as wax, silicon moulds, plaster. As well as casting the vulvae into gold and sterling silver. This is an expensive process and I have set up a gofundme page under the link: https://www.gofundme.com/celebrate-the-vulva-revival
How do I contact this project?