2013-03-07 00:00:00

University of Cincinnati
Re-envisioning the Female Body

Join us in our art display of vaginas on McMicken Commons! The display titled Re-envisioning the Female Body will show 12 billboard-sized photographs of vaginas. The group of photos represents a collaboration between a uc student photographer and 12 volunteer models from within and outside of the uc community. The images will be accompanied by posters sharing quotes from the models and from others about decisions that are made by us or taken from us concerning our bodies in areas of health care,

queer sex, birth and abortion, and in stories of abuse and survival.

The idea and focus of this demonstration is a response to the gruesome, billboard sized images of mutilated fetuses and genocide victims brought to our campus by radical pro-life groups. It will serve to call attention to the vagina as a site of conflict in medical, legislative, domestic, and representational arenas both historically and contemporarily. Its purpose is to incite conversation about objectification, exploitation, and discrimination in advertising, health care, reproductive rights, queer identities, and the negative dispositions our society holds toward the vagina, its representation and its claim in the public domain, while broadly calling to question our perceptions of what constitutes art, what constitutes obscenity, and what images our culture and our government deem worthy enough to enter visibility in shared and domestic spaces.

Our hope for this project is to combat these inequalities and abuses through the use of our vaginas as a form of collective resistance to these oppressions and to claim our positions as individuals with unique experiences, perceptions, and needs. This project is not meant to be a success story, but to further complicate ideas of agency and oppression, to be a catalyst for further conversation into all of these subject areas. The pose of the models will be from an ironically medical perspective: one with legs fully spread, as if at the gynecologist, as the female body has been compartmentalized by legislative healthcare decisions. The 'billboards' will speak ironically to both the sale and suppression of female sexuality within our social system. The images will mimic the same style of representation-a selling and enforcing of patriarchy- that has shaped our visual culture both historically and contemporarily. However, the idea is to juxtapose these images with quotes and ideas from the models, disrupting the visual playing field and forcefully inserting our voice where it has always been missing.

In a system of unevenly allocated power over how we see ourselves and our bodies, where many women claim to not know the look of their own vagina or talk much about it, we hope this will serve as an abrupt call to attention. Our effort is to criticize the socialized revulsion, embarrassment, and inattention to this body part, to see the female body as we neglect to see it, envisioning a greater potential for a future social and visual landscape.