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 overÂ 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 :)
After over two years in the making 101 Vagina is finally giving birth :)
101 Vagina â€“ Book Launch and Exhibition
Date: Friday 22 March 2013
Venue: 1000 Pound Bend â€“ 361 Lt Lonsdale St Melbourne
Times:Â Book launch event: 6m â€“ 10pmÂ |Â Exhibition: 10am â€“ 10pm
101 Vagina is about breaking down the taboos and shame that many women feel around their genitals and bodies in general. It celebrates uniqueness and diversity, thereby confronting the lies we are told about whatâ€™s normal and where beauty lies.
The book comprises 101 beautiful black and white photos, accompanied by a message from or about each womanâ€™s vagina to the world. 101 Vagina is therefore also very much about the sharing of story, experience and wisdom. The messages written by the women in the book (and on the blog) are candid and span the spectrum of emotions. They form a small compendium of womenâ€™s intimate experience with their own genitalia, sexuality and sometimes, the very essence of what womanhood means to them. It is these messages that give the book itâ€™s depth and invite the reader to consider the subject more deeply.
The book launch event will be a mini Festival of the Vagina. Many other artists, educators and even politicians, will contribute to turn the evening into the kind of celebration that vaginas deserve, in stark contrast to the taboo with which they are burdened.
The exhibition will comprise the entire contents of the book and the book will be available for sale.
Toni Childs wrote the foreword for the book and will hopefully be able to attend (to be confirmed).
A small voluntary donation may be sought on the door to help cover event costs.
Festival of the Vagina: Book launch event
Spoken word : Dance : Art Installations : Vagina Monologue : Live Music : Video : Education : Burlesque : Vulva Cushion : Comedy : Victorian Roller Derby League : Chai : Vulva Muffins : And more :
: Womenâ€™s Health Victoria : Australian Sex Party :
As a point of curiosity, one of the galleries I applied to to host the exhibition was the No Vacancy gallery in the QV building. The gallery owner was happy to offer me the space but he was overruled by the actual building owners, Colonial First State (Commonwealth Bank) due to the nature of the exhibition.
Ironically the QV Centre is on the site of the old Queen Victoria Hospital. Their website (http://www.qvwc.org.au/about-us/history) has this to say about itâ€™s history:
The Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital 1946 â€“ 1987
The second era saw pioneering work in the field of womenâ€™s and childrenâ€™s health, building on the great strides in womenâ€™s health care that had already made since the â€˜Queen Vicâ€™ was founded in 1896 â€˜for women, by womenâ€™. During this era Dame Kate Campbellâ€™sÂ insights put the hospital at the forefront of work in the care of premature babies. Other notable firsts included the appointment of interpretersâ€™ enabling hospital staff to be trained in up to 20 languages, the creation of Australiaâ€™s first midwife-led Birth Centre, gender dysphoria clinic and Centre Against Sexual Assault in the 1970s and an internationally renowned IVF programme pioneered by Dr Lorna Lloyd-Green.
â€œIt should be the obstetricianâ€™s duty to â€˜seek to determine not what the woman can endure, but what she can accomplish.â€
â€“ Dr Lorna Lloyd-Green, â€˜Queen Vicâ€™ obstetrician
Before I even knew of this history I could see the media release headline in my minds eye:
â€œCommonwealth Bank rejects vagina exhibition.â€
Well, it may still happen, keep your eye on the news ;)