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: 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: