I was very happy to be back in Montreal after my first visit there around 6.5 years earlier. At that time I was enjoying record snow falls not seen in 50 years, this time it was spring! :)
May curious passers-by walked in since the gallery had window frontage onto a semi-busy street.
I was very happy to have a sexologist Josée Leboeuf, B.A., M.A. come and speak at the opening night :)
A couple of days before the opening I was interviewed by a new quarterly women’s mag, Magazine Muses, and they got an article online the next day.
And now, a week after the exhibition there closed a review come out in LaPresse, one of the largest newspapers in Montreal :)
On top of that, on the last day of the exhibition a TV station came in to record for one of their episodes. It’s a new series which follows a man and a woman (they are stars in Montreal apparently) who explore various aspects of sexuality. That episode was about the body. Was great to be a part of it and I’m really looking forward to the outcome.
Last but not least I have to say that the gallery owners of Le repaire des 100 talents, Luc and Adeleine, were very gracious and supportive hosts. I’m very grateful for all their support.
And here’s a few photos as usual :)
The opening night of the 101 Vagina Exhibition and Book Launch at Laguna Gallery of Contemporary Art was huge.
It helped that the first Thursday of the month is Laguna Beach Art Walk. It meant that a lot of people came through who otherwise would never have come in contact with it.
In particular I was really happy to see many older ladies come through the exhibition, as well as young men. We so commonly assume older ladies to be conservative and prudish and we assume young men to not give a shit about women’s issues. That judgement doesn’t serve us.
The broad appeal of the exhibition was also aided by having had front page coverage in the Coastline Pilot, Laguna Beache’s local paper published by the LA Times.
Interview with Lynda & Diann.
“It’s very educational and very interesting”
I was honoured by Dr Berta Davis’ attendance at the L.A. launch of the 101 Vagina book on 5th April 2014. A couple of days later I caught up with her for an interview.
Dr Davis speaks about the 101 Vagina book from her perspective of having been a Sex Therapist for 30 years, clinical psychologist for 35 years, and currently running the couple and sex therapy training program at UCLA.
“I think the book is doing something that no other piece of literature has done … to have been able to capture the aesthetics of femininity as well as the personal narrative.”
Berta has a charming, positive, kind and humble presence and it was a great pleasure and honour to meet with her and receive such a strong endorsement of the 101 Vagina book.
Often in today’s culture we seem to value pop psychology, bombastic claims and numbers of followers over simple, humble experience gained over many years of dedicated work. Dr Davis stands as a great testament to the value of the latter!
See Dr Davis’ website here: http://bertadavis.com
Recorded 7th April 2014 at Dr Davis’ office in Encino, CA.
Saturday 5 April – Sunday 13 April, 2014
Sat 5 April, 6-9pm
Think Tank Gallery
939 Maple Ave, Suite #200
101 Vagina successfully launched in the USA at the Exhibition and Book Launch in Los Angeles at Think Tank Gallery in Downtown Los Angeles.
I can’t believe that it’s only been two and a half weeks since I got on the plane in Sydney on my way to Los Angeles, and now the first of my six city tour of USA and Canada is already done.
Thanks so much to the amazing crew at Think Tank Gallery, in particular Jacob Patterson. I was honoured to be at their space and felt very supported.
So, what’s happened since I got here?
Think Tank Gallery is a fantastic, huge space. I had a week to get over my jet lag and do some promo work getting flyers around the place and hanging a big banner out the front.
I was also super happy to have room for other artists to show their vagina art. Thanks to Mia Maldonado, Christiana, Morgan Miller and Ginger Liu!
This is the first time I’ve been able to hang all 101 images and messages in a single row, normally I need to double up.
People also jumped onto the vagina craft table with enthusiasm!
And as usual there we some great messages in the guest book.
And then it was all over.
San Francisco here I come !!!
The exhibition is hung, the lighting is adjusted. There are just a few little things left to do tomorrow and then… I wait.
101 Vagina launched in Melbourne, Australia just a little over a year ago, on March 22, 2013, with a bang! I’d been working on the project for over two years already and most of the participants were from Melbourne, so plenty of locals already knew about it. On top of that, I had run a successful crowdfunding campaign, raising $20,000 required to self-publish and get the books professionally printed (large print runs are expensive, but they make the price per book manageable). I had good press and there was considerable expectation around the launch. It was huge! Thousand Pound Bend, the large warehouse type space, where the exhibition was held was packed.
In LA I’m nobody and until very recently no one had ever heard anything about my baby, though I’ve been busy for months trying to make connections and get the word out about the coming exhibition. But for every 100 emails sent I get perhaps one reply. And now, all that work is done and all I’m left with to do is wait. Wait to see who will come through the gallery doors. Wait to see how it’s received. Wait to see if people care. Wait to see if people will actually buy the book, which I need to sell in order to pay the gallery etc.
I’m also excited! I have some fantastic sexuality educators lined up to speak. The exhibition looks great, the space is amazing and huge, and there are some nice touches which give a splash of colour in an otherwise very minimal and understated experience. It’s a nice feeling to stand in the middle of a gallery after months of preparation and many hours of work and see it all done. There is also the anticipation of wondering how people will respond.
What will happen?
Conversely it’s always sad to pack up and leave. For the next week that gallery will be my spiritual home. I will make many, many connections with lots of different people. I will have discussions about interesting things and I expect some of those discussions to be passionate. And I will, or hope to, watch people’s hearts and minds open as they engage with the work. Somehow the exhibition and the space blend into one experience which makes it feel like removing a limb when I take the work down again at the end.
Thankfully I have a comfortable couch to sleep on, food I can eat in the morning, a rented car to get to the gallery, and a functioning body to do all the things I’ll need to do tomorrow; arms to hug people.
But for now by brain is going into the early stages of shutdown. That couch is looking very inviting and sleep, blessed sleep, beckons this weary artist into it’s hopefully rejuvenating fold.
Good night world. Be kind to me tomorrow :)
101 Vagina book launch and exhibition tour.
After two years in the making, the 101 Vagina book is being launched in the USA and Canada with a series of exhibitions across the two countries from April to June 2014.
101Vagina is about breaking down the taboo around the vagina and body image shame generally. It’s also about the sharing of story and celebration of our diversity.
The book comprises 101 black and white photos of women’s vaginas, in front on standing pose, accompanied by a message written by each woman about her vagina. The messages span the spectrum of emotions and form a small compendium of women’s experiences with their vaginas and womanhood in general.
The book is self-published via Taboo Books by German/Australian photographer Philip Werner. It was first launched in Melbourne in 2013 after a successful crowdfunding campaign and Werner is now taking the book to the world via America.
Werner was first inspired by reading Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in 2007, and wanted to do something to counteract the unrealistic standards held up by various media which lead many women to feel that they are not normal or attractive.
So many current issues are raised by the 101 Vagina book that it’s difficult to encapsulate: Labiaplasty, pubic hair styles, genital mutilation, goddess worship, rape culture, orgasms, body image, masturbation, and even censorship of the word vagina itself.
Once printed, $5 from every book sold will go to women’s charities.
Traversing the continent, the tour will start in Los Angeles (5-13 April) before visiting San Francisco (19-27 April), Montreal (17-25 May), New York (3-8 June) and finishing in Toronto (14-22 June). Exhibitions in the UK may follow.
The book launch exhibitions will also feature a Festival of the Vagina, bringing local artists performers and educators together in vaginal celebration.
101 Penis and 101 Breasts are also in the making.
Media Release: 16 August 2013
Vagina censorship at Sydney Fringe 2013The 101 Vagina Book Exhibition will be part of the Sydney Fringe this year (2013) and was also selected to be part of the Sydney Fringe’s Fringe Arts Forum, a visual arts showcase. (Fringe Arts Forum 11-28 Sept: Opening night 13 Sept 6pm)
However, months after arrangements for this were made, the Italian Forum venue owners decided that the images could not be shown because they want the venue to be “family Friendly”.
Regarding this question, Ciao magazine published an article, titled “Children come out of vaginas but are not allowed to see them?” on the question of minors viewing the exhibition’s content. This followed the police’s suggestion that minors should be kept out of the recent 101 Vagina exhibition in Sydney in June. The police also requested that the gallery windows be covered, leading to a front page article in MX newspaper with a large headline “Hide the Vagina”. Arts Hub also covered the story in a bit more detail.
After frustrating communication attempts the venue decided that the images could be shown, but only if they are censored such that no genitalia is visible.
This presents an excellent opportunity to raise the issue of censorship and explore the taboo from another angle. The audience will find themselves engaged in a multimedia censorship bonanza, where each “offending” genitalia will be covered with a scannable QR code that takes people, via their smart phones, to a censorship related website, article, image or simply the original, uncensored photo.
In a related issue, the media recently picked up on the “scandal” caused by the Sydney Uni Student magazine, Honi Soit, who published 18 vaginas on their front cover. Something went wrong with the black censorship boxes not sufficiently obscuring the genitalia and all heaven broke loose.
Vagina related taboos, and body image shame generally, are connected to the staggering increase in women and girls seeking out labiaplasty, to which Australian censorship laws contribute.
The main exhibition at Tap Gallery in Darlinghurst will still host all the uncensored images, from 17-22 Sept. 2013.
101 Vagina will also be in the Melbourne Fringe from 25 Sept to 6 Oct 2013.
101 Vagina Book Exhibition (Sydney Fringe 2013)
At the Fringe Arts Forum (only a few of the images and censored)
Dates: 11-28 September: 2pm till late
Venue: Italian Forum, 23 Norton St, Leichardt
Main Exhibition (Entire exhibition)
Dates: 17-22 September: 12-6pm daily
Opening night: Tuesday 17 September 6-9pm
Venue: Tap Gallery, 45 Burton St, Darlinghurst