Interactive installation in public space:
Animated projections by DIY wheel projector.
After spending an evening chatting with a group of feminist academic friends about the taboo subject of the vulva, I found that most of us had never bothered to look at our vulva. Only very few had a term for the vulva that did not come from a wrong anatomical designation (e.g. "vagina" only refers to the inner space that leads to the uterus), but reflected a personal reference. Most had only really dealt with the sensitivities, changes, bulges and muscles of their labia, vulvas and vaginas during their first sexual contact, i.e. indirectly through another person. Unlike, for example, in public Arabic hammams, all actions of female cleaning happen in the privacy of the private European bathroom. As a result, there are many women who only know vulvas other than their own vulva from porn. While men see different penises every day in the urinal, vulvas remain empty spaces, which at best receive attention when difficulties and acts of violence arise (see media reports on genital mutilation or mass rapes).
The idealization and alienation of vulvas in porn has led to a drastic increase in cosmetic surgery in the genital area in Austria and other industrialized countries, with dangerous health risks. Although the labia can be reduced or padded with autologous fat, the clitoris can be relocated or reduced and the vagina narrowed, the consequences are often permanent pain, scars and impaired urinary flow. Female sexuality and lust becomes the battlefield of repressions that have ended up with 90 percent of all girls and 80 percent of adult women being dissatisfied with their bodies.
While in matriarchal cultures sexuality is understood as the starting point of female wisdom, power and development potential, in patriarchy female sexuality is associated with material goods (see divorce law), responsibility towards children or "belonging" to a male partner (as a girlfriend, fiancée or wife in a monogamous relationship). In Austria, marital rape has only been reported since 1989. Female sexuality is therefore not seen as a "natural phenomenon" per se, but as a unit to be regulated, which should be devalued and sanctioned immediately should it begin to permeate everyday life.
Few female artists have faced these sanctions. Among others the Austrian Valie Export, 1968 with her famous performance Aktionshose:Genitalpanik (first picture from above) The Finn Mimosa Pale 2007 with her Mobile Female Monument (link︎︎︎) (Second fig. from left) Ana Hoffners with "Panic: perverted".(Third fig. from right) or Christina Goestl with her project "Viva la vulva" 2008 (fourth fig. from right).
With an interactive installation on the tool h I want to play with the old myth of a strong, active and shameless vulva. The legends and stories about the so-called "vagina dentata" occur particularly in societies that have only recently transitioned from matriarchy to patriarchy. But even in our latitudes, which are practiced by patriarchy, there is always the urban legend of the toothed vagina, which lustfully practices castration or semen is merely consumed as a necessary food (not for life-giving).
In earlier times, stories about the vagina dentata probably had the function of reducing promiscuity and expressing male insecurities. Today it is a relic of a view of the female vulva that has become rare, namely as an untameable and defensive being.
The "yawn" is a short animation made of acrylic sheets on which vulvas have been drawn with nail polish. Each image is projected onto the wall by a small DIY projector, triggered by an incoming and outgoing light sensor that serves as a shutter. The fast, sequential lighting up of the projectors creates the illusion of movement. The animation is rotated by the mechanics of an old wheel.
Jan 03, 2011