101 Vagina is on the front page of City Hub this week.
Great article too! Decent journalism rather than simply sensationalism.
Click the article below for a larger image, read the article online here, or pick one up on the streets around Sydney.
City Hub is:
“Published weekly and freely available Sydney-wide.
Copies are also distributed to serviced apartments, hotels,
convenience stores and newsagents throughout the city.”
Scan the QR code with a free QR code scanner from your app store to see the website it takes you to :)
The QR code censored vaginas were a hit at the opening night of the Sydney Fringe Arts Forum in Leichardt on Friday night.
Read here why the images were censored in the first place.
This is the first time that 101 Vagina images and text had been exhibited in a setting that was not exclusively about 101 Vagina. This meant many people came face to face with it who were not expecting to be.
It made for some interesting reactions. Some people straight away engaged in various ways, others walked past pretending not to notice, apparently feeling embarrassed. More often than not it is the men who seem to feel too embarrassed to look and read. I suspect that this is due to an unspoken cultural attitude that looking makes you some sort of pervert. No wonder internet porn is so popular, since people can look without anyone seeing you looking.
I think I also overestimated people’s comfort and skill levels with their smartphones. Many people made no attempt to scan the QR codes, and may not have realised that there was more to them than met the eyes (though it was explained clearly on an information page).
Still, many people got out their phones, scanned the codes and read the linked articles. Now as before I am always fascinated to watch people engage with the 101 Vagina project. Always there will be people who are touched and moved and deeply appreciative of the work and the message.
Interestingly, the venue manager, who had initially said that the images could not be displayed, and then said that they need to be censored, came up to me afterwards and expressed her support for the project. She said that she completely agreed that it is not children who have problems with nudity, but their parents, who then impose these problems on their children. She had just been concerned about complaints from parents to council etc and didn’t want to have to deal with any kind of fallout. Fair enough. Just goes to show that projects like this are still needed to remove these taboos.
The group exhibition at the Italian Forum is still on until the 29th Sep, Wednesday to Sunday 2-6pm
Now I’m looking forward to the main event, the exhibition at Tap Gallery.
Below are the URL’s linked to by the QR codes:
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
[An edit of this article was also published in Ciao newspaper, July 12 2013]
Then, after 101 Vagina was selected to be part of a group exhibition as part of the Sydney Fringe, the venue refused to allow the images to be shown, saying that they want the venue to be “family friendly”. So I censored the images with QR codes that lead people to various vagina censorship related articles.
Why? Why should children not see, talk about, hear different words for, draw and reflect on vaginas? Are vaginas bad? Are penises bad? Mine isn’t, is yours?
The younger the children are, the more recently they have themselves just emerged from a vagina, after having been conceived through one. But in spite of this there seems to be a cultural fear around children and anything sex related coming within proximity of each other.
Of course, children should be protected from sexual predators, but somehow, the valid and important concerns about sexual abuse have resulted in sex being given a blanket label, bad. The act that led to their existence is labeled bad. What are the two most forbidden words in the English language? Fuck and cunt.
How unfortunate! They should be words of celebration, exuberance, joy, pleasure, freedom & love.
Our culture is severely hobbled by sexual repression and suppression. The worst manifestation of this is sexual abuse and though it may not be the only cause, I believe we will never rid culture of sexual abuse without first dealing with the sexual repression and suppression which underpin it.
Guilt and shame does not arise naturally in us as children, it is taught to us by adults, whether directly or indirectly, through judgement and fear. It is adults who teach children that their bodies are to be hidden, not to touch themselves and not to say certain words. This means that it is up to us, the adults, to reverse this trend.
One of the best ways to reverse guilt and shame is through open discussion and direct engagement. A child who has had open, honest and respectful discussions about their bodies and sexuality is far less likely to end up with feelings of shame and guilt about their own. It also means they will be less likely to fall victim to externally imposed shame from various media or abusive comments.
Imagine if, instead of learning about sex through porn, children were from infancy taught to respect their own and other people’s bodies; that they are the masters of their own; that no part of it is shameful; that pleasure is a birthright, and that sex can be a beautiful act of bonding, joy and pleasure?
Fortunately there is a growing and international “sex positive” movement which is working to remove the negative stigma around bodies and sexuality and the 101 Vagina Exhibition and Festival of the Vagina are proudly part of that movement.
Breaking taboos can be creative fun and no one needs to get hurt in the process. In fact, years of hurt can begin to be undone in the process.
Here is an excerpt from one of the messages written and deposited in the “Write your own vagina message” box:
“… I was thrilled to bring my 3 yr old daughter along, and set her on the path for having pride of her vagina, her self, her future pleasure, her body and it’s life giving abilities & to make sure she’s empowered! …”
Media Release: 2 July 2013
101 Vagina Book Exhibition back after police interference
The 101 Vagina Book Exhibition is coming back to Sydney in September 2013 to be part of the Sydney Fringe arts festival.
101 Vagina is about breaking down the taboo around vaginas and body image shame generally. It is also about the sharing of story and wisdom. It confronts the lies we are told about what’s normal and celebrates uniqueness and diversity.
This is particularly relevant to the growing concerns around female genital mutilation and it’s sibling, labiaplasty. The increase in labiaplasty operations sought out by women and even teenage girls has shocked many people and been the subject of much media attention.
The book (and exhibition) contains 101 black & white photos along with a message written by each woman to accompany their photo. The messages that the participating women have shared are candid and moving. It is light and profound, cheeky and deep. The audience finds itself transfixed by story after story about women’s relationship with their vaginas. This is not the kind of exhibition you forget.
Dr. Elizabeth Gordon, herself an artist, said “I’ve been to many, many gallery openings and I’ve never seen people so engaged with the work, people are actually looking at everything and reading everything, rather than just standing around socialising. It’s addictive, once you read one you just have to keep going.”
The 101 Vagina book spent over two years in the making and only got to print after a successful Pozible crowdfunding campaign.
As might be expected it has had it’s share of controversy along the way. Before the book launch some outspoken feminists were upset about the fact that the project creator is male. Then, at the exhibition in Sydney in June, the City of Sydney council and the local police received complaints because images were visible to the public through the galleries windows. The police requested the windows be covered resulting in MX newspaper writing “Hide the vagina” on their front page (Friday 28 June 2013).
As so often happens, the only complaints have come from people who have not actually engaged with the project and read the stories. The overwhelming response to 101 Vagina is of heartfelt support and gratitude.
The 101 Vagina Book – Exhibition in the Sydney Fringe will the third time that this book will be exhibited. The first was for the book launch in Melbourne in March 2013 and the second in Sydney in June. Both were accompanied by the Festival of the Vagina which brought together a diverse range of artists, poets, musicians, educators, and politicians under the banner of removing the taboo around the vagina.
Let’s see how Sydney responds to this round of vaginal celebration.
101 Vagina Book Exhibition (Sydney Fringe)
Sydney Fringe page: http://2013.sydneyfringe.com/event/visual-arts-installation-environment/…
17-22 Sept., 12-6pm
Thursday 17 Sept. 6-9pm
Tap Gallery: 278 Palmer St Darlinghurst NSW 2010
101 Vagina website:
Media Release: 27 June 2013
Complaints to City of Sydney council about 101 Vagina Book
Complaints have been made to City of Sydney council about the 101 Vagina Exhibition on now at 107 Projects gallery at 107 Redfern st, Redfern.
One complaint focused on the posters around town advertising the exhibition. Though the posters contain no nudity they prominently feature the word vagina, which some people still seem to find offensive. The other complaint was that there were vagina photos displayed in the gallery windows, which there are not, though the photos are visible through the gallery windows when looking closely.
The police came to the 107 Projects gallery Thursday morning to follow up on the complaint, but they left when they realised that no photos were displayed in the windows and that they were clearly not pornographic.
However, they also said that something may need to be done if more complaints were received. It was not specified what that might entail.
The 101 Vagina Exhibition is on every day 12-5pm until this Sunday. On Saturday the Festival of the Vagina will bring together diverse artists, performers, educators and musicians in a celebration of the vagina with the aim of removing the taboo and shame that many people obviously still feel.
Besides the performers and speakers the day will also feature a Vagina Crafternoon, Large Vagina Photo Booth, Muff Muffin Decorating, Vaginal Mary Confessional, and Yoni Temple. Any artists are invited to bring their own vagina art to the gallery for exhibition.
Creator of the 101 Vagina coffee-table book and exhibition says: “Complaints like this show that we still have a long way to go in the removing of this taboo and in feeling comfortable with our bodies and our sexuality. We were all conceived and born through the vagina, vaginas are sacred, not obscene!”
The exhibition is also planned to be part of the Sydney Fringe and Melbourne Fringe festivals in September 2013.
101 Vagina Exhibition
27-30 June, 12-5pm
Festival of the Vagina
Saturday 29 June, 12-5pm
107 Projects – 107 Redfern St. Redfern