News and Views

News and Views about the project.

101 Vagina is for all ages

[This article was also published (slightly shorter version) in Ciao Magazine in print on online here:]

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The 101 Vagina Exhibition and Festival of the Vagina, both on in Sydney this week, are all ages events. Both children and adults are welcome to attend and yet some people may feel that they are not suitable for children. 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.

This is peculiar considering that children are the result of sex. We all are. We are all walking, talking, breathing sexual beings from birth to death.

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. We are inadvertently teaching our children that sex is bad. The act that led to their, all of our, existence is bad. Consider, what are the two most forbidden words in the English language? Fuck and cunt. Followed by dick, wanker, fuckwit, etc.

How unfortunate.

They should all be words of celebration, exuberance, joy, pleasure, freedom, love, etc.IMG_20130627_162739 640px

I personally believe that our entire culture, at a personal and societal level, is severely hobbled by sexual repression and suppression. Sexual and bodily guilt and shame arise out of judgement and fear. Importantly, I believe that this is causally related to sexual abuse. Not the only cause, but one of them. What motive would someone who is truly satisfied and comfortable in their sexuality have for imposing themselves sexually on anyone else? Rape is not an expression of sexual freedom, but of sexual repression.

The kind of guilt and shame so many of us walk around with about our bodies and sexuality does not arise naturally in us as children, it is taught to us by adults, whether directly or indirectly. 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. We can’t expect the next generation to be free from sexual hangups and free from sexual aggression if we ourselves continue to act from this place.

Oh, and in case you think there isn’t a taboo around vaginas or penises, try talking openly about your own on a crowded train. If you can, without feeling even a tinge of discomfort, you’re in the vast minority.

One of the best ways to reverse guilt and shame is through open discussion and direct engagement. A child who has had open, honest, respectful and broad discussions about genitals and sexuality is far less likely to end up with feelings of shame and guilt about their own. It means they will be far less likely to fall victim to shame externally imposed from media, advertising or passing comments on the street. The knowledge they have about what’s normal acts like a shield which will keep the bullshit at bay.

But how are our children currently being initiated into sexuality? Through porn! Imagine if, instead, 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? We’ve got a long way to go to get to that point.

There is a growing and international sex positive movement which is working to remove the negative stigma around genitalia and sexuality and the 101 Vagina Exhibition and Festival of the Vagina are proudly part of that movement.

What messages will children and adults alike come away with from these events? That vaginas are nothing to feel ashamed of and it’s ok to use the word vagina; we all look different and we’re all just fine the way we look; there are as many different experiences of our bodies and sexuality as there are people on the planet; we all still have a lot left to learn about our very own bodies.

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: 101 Vagina Exhibition comes to Sydney

Media Release: 6 June 2013
101 Vagina Exhibition comes to Sydney

On 29 June 2013, Sydney will host Australia’s second Festival of the Vagina. The first was held in Melbourne in March as part of the 101 Vagina Book Launch and Exhibition, and attracted around 1000 visitors.

Philip Werner, the curator of the Festival of the Vagina and creator of the 101 Vagina project, will be bringing together Sydney’s diverse artists, educators, performers, and musicians, with the common purpose of removing the taboo and shame that many people still feel around their genitalia. He has also begun work on the 101 Penis project.

The award winning artist collective, 107 Projects, will play host to this unique event in Sydney in it’s spacious gallery at 107 Redfern Street, Redfern.

One of the highlights of the Festival of the Vagina will be the 101 Vagina Exhibition, in near life-size format.

101 Vagina is a coffee-table book comprising 101 beautiful black and white photos of vaginas (front on, standing pose) accompanied by a message by each woman from or about her vagina to the world. The aim of the book is to break down the taboo around the vagina and body image shame generally, as well as celebrating diversity and the sharing of story.

The book took over two years to complete and a successful crowdfunding campaign funded the first print run. Now published by Taboo Books, 101 Vagina is available for sale online at the 101 Vagina website and selected bookshops.

Festival of the Vagina:
Saturday 29 June, 2013
12 – 5pm.
http://festivalofthevagina.com

101 Vagina Exhibition: (Book available online)
Thu 27 – Sun 30 June, 2013
12 – 5pm
https://101vagina.com/wp

Venue:
107 Projects: 107 Redfern St. Redfern

Media Contact:
Philip Werner:
philip@philipwernerfoto.com

Melbourne Fringe Fest 2013

101 Vagina Book Exhibition is part of the 2013 Melbourne Fringe Fest !

Dates: Wed 25 September – Sun 6 October 2013
Times: Mon-Fri 10am-6pm; Sat-Sun: 12-5 pm
Opening night: Thursday 26 Sept: 6 – 9 pm
Venue: Colour Factory: 409 -429 Gore Street, Fitzroy, Victoria 3065

Melbourne Fringe event page:
http://www.melbournefringe.com.au/fringe-festival/show/101-vagina-book-exhibition/

See feedback here.

See video interviews of visitors to the exhibition here.

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Sydney Fringe Fest 2013

101 Vagina Book Exhibition is confirmed for the 2013 SYDNEY FRINGE FEST !

Dates: Tue 17 – Sun 22 September 2013
Time: 12-6pm. (See opening night below)
Opening night: Tuesday 17th Sept. 6-9pm
Venue: Tap Gallery – 45 Burton St., Darlinghurst

Sydney Fringe event page:
http://2013.sydneyfringe.com/event/visual-arts-installation-environment/101-vagina-book-exhibition

 

The opening night of the 101 Vagina Book Exhibition as part of the Sydney Fringe was packed!

People had heard about it from all sorts of different directions and once again it was great to see people engage with and absorb the work. There is a kind if reverence with which many people stand and read, and look, and read.

Great to have Tami Sussman perform her “That word Vagina” spoken word piece, Hannah from Honi Soit talking about the recent #vaginasoit issue, and Nikki Goldstein, a well known sexologist, delivering some vagina education. And the Vaginal Mary Confessional was once again a hit :)

Thanks to Tap Gallery for the great space. It’s a non-profit community run organisation! :)

 

 

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101 Vagina is coming in SYDNEY !


Note – future exhibitions:

See the 101 Vagina Book Exhibition at the
Sydney Fringe (17-22 Sept) and
Melbourne Fringe (25 Sep – 6 Oct) in 2013.


Dates (past):

101 Vagina Exhibition:
Thu 27 – Sun 30 June, 12 – 5 pm
Festival of the Vagina:
Saturday 29 June 2013, 12 – 5 pm

Venue:
107 Projects – 107 Redfern St. Redfern

101 Vagina Exhibition:
Thu 27 – Sun 30 June, 12 – 5 pm
The exhibition will comprise all 101 photos and stories from the 101 Vagina coffee-table book.
Some other artists work will also be on display.

Festival of the Vagina:
Saturday 29 June 2013, 12 – 5 pm
Vagina Crafternoon – Live Music -  Vagina Art Installations – Poetry – Performance – Educators
Lineup will be updated as contributors are confirmed.

Book Publishing & Printing:
101 Vagina is published by Taboo Books, Melbourne.
Proudly printed locally in Melbourne on 40% recycled content FSC paper with soy based inks.
The Book will be for sale at special price of $50. Retail price is $60.

Official Endorsements:
: Women’s Health Victoria : Australian Sex Party :

Entry:
Entry is by voluntary donation to cover event costs. We suggest:
$2 = I’m totes pov; $5 = I’m totes pov, but I care about art and vaginas
$10 = I have an income; $15 = I have an income and I care about art and vaginas.

We believe this event is worth more than four coffees, and will give you a better high :)

 

And, which poster do you prefer?

A0 Sydney Launch Poster v3 Colour

A0 Launch Poster v3 Colour

 

Offset printing 101 Vagina

This morning I was finally called in to witness the beginning of the offset print run for the 101 Vagina book, after lots of time spent poring over proofs and making adjustments to images etc. Not to mention over two years of working on the project.

Even though there have been so many things I have experienced in the duration of this project that I could not have foreseen, when I first printed the first draft copy on my own printer I realised that my vision was being birthed exactly the way I had initially envisioned it :)

So, it was with great pleasure that I was able to visit the printer and see the first pages come whizzing off the press. And whiz they do! It easily pumps out 100 pages per minute at of A1 size pages. These pages are then folded and cut, but that’s the next chapter.

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The Heidelberg press (made in Germany :) with the control panel at the left and output area on the right.

 

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The screen has all the aluminium plate files and information at fingertip reach.

 

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The pages come whizzing off the press at a rapid rate.

 

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The press operator checks the pages that come off the press against the proofs for colour density.

 

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Like a big audio mixing desk, he adjusts the ink levels to keep the tonal depth accurate.

 

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Ink levels can be minutely adjusted in many sections, represented by each of the vertical lines on the display.

 

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And the pages of the first section start to pile up.

 

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After the first plate is run it’s time to change the plates. One for the top of the page and one for the bottom. The press prints to top and bottom in a single pass.

 

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A factory worker checks out the work on his way past, the book has created a bit of a buzz in the building. I feel heartened that he doesn’t just oogle at the photos but spends his time carefully reading one of the messages.

 

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And the second section piles up!