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vulva diagram, with masking tape

vulva diagram on tracing paper

vulva diagram on tracing paper, with masking tape

I guess the tape means I used have this up on a wall in my apartment.

Diagrams and illustrations are helpful, information. The vagina portraits are more than that. They’re a mirror, even if it’s not your portrait you’re looking at. Because gathered together, as they will be for the normal is diverse exhibition, they become more than a document, depicting more than an aspect of someone, one. They’re a collective mirror.

You’ll see if you attend the exhibition next month. More like, you’ll feel it. Your stories lived in your body, your stories about women’s bodies, will recognize themselves in the faces of these vagina portraits.

 

Who should see this?

normal is diverse

normal is diverse: a photography exhibition of 110 vagina portraits, so we can see ourselves for ourselves

I think about this a lot. What the project means to me, the conversations I’d like to have, or more like the conversations I’d like to start via these images, and frankly, I get sick of the sound of my voice pretty quickly into it.

So, I’d like to try something different.

If you can, I’d love to hear in your words, what you think vagina vérité is about and who this exhibition is for.

I’ll go first with what I’m thinking about today.

For me, this is about freedom, freedom from inherited ideas about who you’re supposed to be and what’s meaningful about your life—In short it’s about respect, because you have to have respect to live freely. Not sure how I get there from vagina portraits? I hear you, but I wanted to keep this short. I’m happy to get into it more if you like. Let me know.

Meanwhile, what do you think?

What is vagina vérité about? Who should see it?
What do you think, or hope, attendees will get out of it?

You can use this form to reply. It’s anonymous!

women’s clubs

I generally spend much of my time on my own, but lately, I am looking to connect in different ways, not just the 1:1 I usually go for. Something about facing more than one person at a time has always made me self-conscious, and that just adds one more viewer to the scene! Bogging me down further.

Lately though, because I’m looking to invite as many women as I can to see the vagina portraits in December, I’m showing up for more group activities. Still towing along performance anxiety, or whatever it is, that separates me in these situations, but attending anyway.

Last night it was a dinner hosted by Techfest Club. It’s a community for women in tech in NYC. We were supposed to end at 9, but pretty much everyone just kept on talking. Interesting, accomplished, open, generous women. Meetup info is here.

How about you? Are you a member of any women’s clubs?

Being female isn’t normal?

As I prepare for the normal is diverse exhibition, I am struck more and more by how, in our world, it just is not seen as normal to be female.

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Our first vagina festival

Vagina Festival 2007 was visual and performance art experience, that took place over the weekend of Feb 16-18, 2007. It was a part of the VDay Worldwide Campaign to end violence against women and girls. We did have some important conversations there. We didn’t go far enough. I mean I didn’t.

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global feminism for my 13-year-old self

I didn't discuss this with anyone. I figured I was supposed to handle it on my own. As if the male non-menstruating, etc. bodylife was the norm, and we shouldn't bother anyone about all the other female stuff we experience. 

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NoChoice Travel

At the core of democracy and basic human rights, is sovereignty over your own body. No woman or child should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term.

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Independence day

I don't know about you, but I have spent way too much time letting a culture of bullying women into silence undermine my ability to simply show up for myself, for what I believe in, and want for us.

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Save the date

Over the course of ten years, I photographed over 100 vagina portraits.

I wanted us to see for ourselves, that we are indeed unique and interesting. To deliver the message that how you are is how you’re supposed to be. Because it’s normal that we are all different.

I shot from the point of view reserved for gynecologists and lovers (sometimes). The images are square and a little larger than life to properly extend the invitation to look. Because I don’t think we really really look at each other. Slowly. Openly. With interest in the other. So, this is a chance to try that out. To take your time.

There were no stylists, no details about the model to set the mood for fantasy or to objectify us—just the everyday vagina in plain view. Each strikingly unique. I did my best to keep myself out of it. To make some initial decisions about the composition and then get out of the way, and let you see what you see for yourself.

The normal is diverse exhibition takes place on Saturday, 08-Dec-2018 from 4-8pm at Ludlow Studios, 40 Ludlow Street, NYC 10002. Ludlow Studios is both a photography studio and an exhibition space. I have to say, it’s an ideal venue for this exhibition. It’s roomy and kind of cozy at the same time. 

This will be the first time the v-portraits have been exhibited since 2010.

It’s free, but space is limited, so RSVP to save your space.

vagina vérité is a collective mirror of our individuality, expressed through an endlessly interesting aspect ourselves, the faces of our vaginas.

It raises a lot of questions.

It’s an opportunity to have conversations we don’t usually get to have. Out loud, or privately. While viewing, or later. Or not. It’s personal, yOur experience. Come by and see what you think, and feel.

It’s for my friend. I don’t believe I’ve properly answered her question yet.

It’s for, and about, women. Everyone who is interested is welcome.—Alexandra

 

Moving toward respect

I think to do that, to get there, we have to really see ourselves and each other. To look slowly. And repeatedly, and to tell stories. Reveal experiences, fears. A lot of it's about pain. I was reading something Sean Penn said about containing the #MeToo movement, reframing it into something less black and white: he said it was divisive. That it was coming between men and women.

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Women making v-portraits

The women who made v-portraits with me ranged in age from 19-60. They may, or may not, have been comfortable with their bodies, or familiar with their vaginas. There were no requirements in order to pose, other than to be over 18. I don’t know what their sexual orientation was, or whether they’d ever given birth, or had sexual intercourse—unless it came up in conversation, and if it did, I didn’t make a note of it.

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Sexual, not erotic. What do you think?

In my living room, I had a wall of close-up documentary-style photographs of vaginas, framed in 8"x10" document frames.

The everyday vagina in plain view.

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What it must have felt like to feel safe in a crowd like that

It's not that I expect violence in every crowd, it's a habit of vigilance and guarding against that you build up over time. A little extra weight that you carry with you everywhere. You get used to it.

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The unique story of each of us

When I look at the vagina portraits, I see landscape. Human landscape. We are each a world.

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Letting it pass

I figured early on that it was a matter of gender, or religion, that kept the conversation just this side of hostile all that time, but I averted my eyes. I've seen that expression of disdain before, and I just didn't want to deal. I told myself it was temporary and not worth confronting.

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For years, my apartment was vagina central

For years, my apartment was vagina central. At about 30 v-portraits, I began exhibiting. I previewed vagina vérité® on its own, and as part of group shows. The exhibitions and events explored a range of themes relating to women’s bodies and how we feel about them and what that means for our quality of life.

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