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.