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Embodiments of Life and Death through Art

Info: 1862 words (7 pages) Essay
Published: 10th May 2021 in Arts

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Embodiment of life and death explores the taboos, shame, and poverty surrounding woman’s menstrual cycles.  Woman and young girls have been taught to deal with periods in secrecy as the topic of menstruation is frowned upon in our current culture.  Due to taboos, and stigma surrounding menstruation woman and young girls living in hardship struggle to afford sanitary products which has led to a worldwide issue known as ‘Period Poverty’.  The main objective of the photographic work is built upon the progress several activist groups have made tackling period poverty and help keep the issue in the mainstream media.  It aims to create a beautiful concept surrounding menstruation using several mediums photography, video - documenting a live performance.  Using an alternative method -Napkins, opposed to sanitary wear to gather menstrual blood will be used.  Once the Napkin becomes saturated or unusable to stem the flow, they will then be created into small sculptors using the technique origami.  Origami original benefited those from Europe, China and Japan and practised by few as it was seen as a luxury activity due to the expensive cost of paper[1] (WNY Book Arts Center, 2019).

The objective of the performative piece

 

It is believed that more than 800 million woman and young girls from the ages 15 to 49 years are menstruating and will menstruate for around 3,000 days within their lifetime[2] (Walsh and Mwinemwesigwa, 2019).  Menstruation is one of the most natural acts that occurs within women’s body however it is shadowed by shame, secrecy leading to isolation, embarrassment as well as impacting on woman and young girl’s mental health.  Period poverty has developed through this shaming and stigma along with the taxation placed on sanitary product identifying them as luxury items.  A survey by Plan International UK identified that 14% of girls had to borrow sanitary products from friends.  It also found that 12% have used improvised menstrual products as an alternative way to stem their flow[3] (Plan International UK, 2019).   Period Poverty is a global issue not just in developing countries but developed countries also. It is a human right to have access to clean water and sanitation, nonetheless 2.3 million people live without basic sanitation.  With this basic right being ignored woman using alternative methods have suffered a knock-on effect to their suffering from embarrassment, staining their clothing, smell and also known to have developed infections as a result. 

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The stigma and taboos boil down to people lacking valuable knowledge surrounding menstruation and these stigmas are enhanced through the way media portrays the monthly cycle.  For several years an advert would never use words such as blood, bleeding, or even period, and even used blue colouring to represent the blood flow opposed to red.  This method only managed to continue the disgust and conversation of secrecy around menstruation. 

The notion to carry on and hopefully develop work to add to already successful period poverty and taboo campaigns has been influenced by several artists.  Photographers that have influenced the project is Paloumi Basu, and Mary Molloy (Hamill).  The live performance/video piece has been influenced by the grandmother of performance art Marina Abrmovic, Casey Jenkins as well as Christen Clifford.

 

 

         Figure 1 Palomui Basu – A Ritual of Excile

 

Poulomi Basu explores the stigmatisation of women during menstruation, and the knock-on effects relating to social, emotional and physical effects that young girls and woman face.  The work uses red hues that can be identified with periods.  The work cleverly identifies the isolation woman face when cast away to menstruation huts during their cycle without access to clean sanitation.  The idea of not shying away from happenings in other countries and the ability to identify the stigma shrouding periods and bringing it to the forefront of the media is innovating.  The work tackles the stigmas of disgust and visually identifies that there is no reason for the issue to be seen as unclean.  The work is created very sensitively to cultures and individuals in the series if work but delivers a powerful message that things have to change and go ignored no more.

 

Mary Molloy (Hamill) - Semper Augustus

Figure 2 Mary Molloy - Semper Augustus

Marina Abramovic


Casey Jenkins

Figure 4 - Marina Abramovic - The Artist is Present

Figure 4.1 – Marina Abramovic - Rhythm 0 (1974)

 

Figure 5 - Casey Jenkins - Virginal Knitting

 

Christen Clifford - 1WantYour3lood: Part 2 The Menstrual Symphony

References

 

Video

  • Figure 4.1 - Abramovic, M. (2016). Rhythm 0. [image] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=xTBkbseXfOQ&feature=emb_title [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Figure 3 - Clifford, C. (2019). 1WantYour3lood: Part 2 The Menstrual Symphony. [video] Available at: https://vimeo.com/122099876 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Figure 5 - Jenkins, C. (2013). Virginal Knitting. [online] Youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=146&v=q6RZZf6HMzo&feature=emb_title [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].

Images

  • Figure 1 - Editors, V. (2017). A Ritual of Exile. [image] Available at: https://medium.com/vantage/when-is-the-time-to-witness-when-is-the-time-to-intervene-e67bfd990f00 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Figure 4 - Marina Abramovic - The Artist is Present. (2016). [image] Available at: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2016/10/marina-abramovic-and-the-legacies-of-controversial-artists/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Figure 2 - Semper Augustus. (2016). [image] Available at: https://www.marymolloy.studio/semper-augustus [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].

Websites

  • Editors, V. (2017). When is the time to witness? When is the time to intervene?. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/vantage/when-is-the-time-to-witness-when-is-the-time-to-intervene-e67bfd990f00 [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Jenkins, C. (2013). Virginal Knitting. [online] Youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=146&v=q6RZZf6HMzo&feature=emb_title [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Marymolloy.studio. (2019). Semper Augustus. [online] Available at: https://www.marymolloy.studio/semper-augustus [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Plan International UK. (2019). Sponsor a Child | Children's Rights & Disaster Relief Charity | Plan International UK. [online] Available at: https://plan-uk.org/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhOGJl73l5QIVwcreCh1-QgqnEAAYASAAEgKWAfD_BwE [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Abramovic, M. (2016). Rhythm 0YouTube. [online] Youtube.com. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=3&v=xTBkbseXfOQ&feature=emb_title [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • The Saint. (2016). Marina Abramovic and the legacies of controversial artists | The Saint. [online] Available at: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2016/10/marina-abramovic-and-the-legacies-of-controversial-artists/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • WNY Book Arts Center. (2019). The History of the Art of Origami | WNY Book Arts Center. [online] Available at: https://wnybookarts.org/the-history-of-the-art-of-origami/ [Accessed 12 Nov. 2019].
  • Walsh, R. and Mwinemwesigwa, C. (2019). Period Poverty: Tackling the Menstruation Taboo | Compassion UK. [online] Compassion UK. Available at: https://www.compassionuk.org/blogs/period-poverty/ [Accessed 13 Oct. 2019].

[1] “Handmade paper was a luxury item only available to the wealthy, and paper folding in ancient Japan was strictly for ceremonial purposes, often religious in nature”

[2] “…more than 800 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating.  Yet monthly menstruation is a global stigmatised issue…. The average adolescent girl will be affected by menstruation for 3,000 days in her lifetime.  That works out to more than 8 years!”.

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[3] This statistic found was found through a survey by the charity Plan International UK.  The survey which took responses from 1000 girls in the UK found that 14% of girls have had to borrow menstrual products from a friend and 12% have had to improvise or do with makeshift menstrual products due to affordability issues”.

 

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