thought-provoking art & experiences
...in search of, and questioning, what's normal, and how that affects quality of life
I didn't see this coming. I didn't know that normal would be a concept that I would explore for so much of my life — formally (read about my ten-year project below) and informally —
Moment to moment the idea of normal rears it's head; I often ignore it or take it for granted as how things are...the expectation that people will be as we expected them to be, that there is such a thing as normal, and that it's the measure of us...
Other times, I am stopped in my tracks, falling flat on my face, on the face of my beliefs and judgments about other people and myself, and what we're all supposed to be doing here, and how...
...as if these expectations were more important than what is.
Than what is actually happening.
I think the world of normal is mostly about what isn't.
About what and how things should be...
It never ceases to amaze me how much time, energy and emotion go to what isn't, rather than what is.
the ten-year project
It began when out of the blue, a friend asked me if I liked the way my vagina looked. Yes, just like that. We were meeting at a restaurant bar for drinks and, following hello, these were the next words out of her mouth: "Do you like the way your vagina looks"?
She did not like hers. There was something wrong with the way it looked.
Now, I knew that we were all different and that there was no right way to look, but I also knew that tone.
Telling her that we were all different would not be enough. She really thought that there was a right way to look.
And, hers did not meet that expectation. That led me to ask:
- Where did her expectations come from?
- What's normal?
- And, how come we didn't already know what was normal for this important part of our bodies?
Also, there should be a book. So we can see ourselves for ourselves.
If there wasn't one out there, I would shoot one.
And so began what I had no idea would become an over-ten-year project: vagina vérité® — an unabashed exploration of the plain, ordinary, mysterious matter of vaginas.
vagina vérité® is comprised of over 100 v-portraits (close-up documentary vulva photographs), a companion website (of over 1500 v-topic questionnaire responses), solo and group exhibitions, two Vagina Festivals (weekend visual- and performance-art experiences) and next, the book: the elusive faces of our vaginas in plain view—so we can see ourselves for ourselves.
In 2005, I had the privilege of exhibiting the v-portraits at the biennial conference of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research. The Society for Menstrual Cycle Research is a nonprofit, international, interdisciplinary research organization, established in 1979. Its membership includes researchers in the social and health sciences, humanities scholars, health care providers, policy makers, health activists, students and artists with interests in the role of the menstrual cycle in women’s health and well-being.
It's a diverse and lively group (that's not a group, it's more like a virtual meeting space). Attending presentations about different aspects of our menstrual-cycle experiences (inside our bodies and out), woke me up to how little I knew about my body, and how body literacy (and illiteracy) was directly correlated with quality of life.
You can check out the blog, re:Cycling.
Or you can go straight to just my posts at re:Cycling here
Or, read this one about how normal changes over the course of your life. It's probably not what you've been expecting.
The Ten-Year Project
Toward publishing the v-book...
More about our bodies
my monthly blog posts at re:Cycling: