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.
The first exhibition, yOur Exhibition, was a solo show that I organized at a bar on the lower east side, named Smithfield, that no longer exists. It was a preview exhibition just for women.
About 130 women attended, and the staff was all female. Most got their first view of other women’s vaginas that night. It was a fun evening. My mother’s friends got to spend some time in a Lower East Side bar (one commented on the bathrooms being unexpectedly clean). My best friend made cupcakes (way before it was trendy!) and a few women were surprised to find that the v-portraits weren’t large, head-swallowing sized images, which for some reason, they expected they would be. One told me: “It’s not that scary after all.”
One of my favorite moments of the project was at the Smithfield exhibition. The v-portraits were installed on a wall in two rows, with about six inches between them. Two of my friends were standing side by side viewing them.
The two weren’t friends themselves exactly, but because of their relationships with me, seeing each other at my birthdays and events, and knowing how I felt about each of them, they had an intimacy-by-association between them.
One of them said to the other “I think that’s me.”
And, the other woman said, “No, it’s not.“
“How do you know?” the first one said.
“Because that’s me!”
I love that. More than once, women who participated told me that they wondered whether they would be able to identify themselves by their v-portrait. Women who didn’t make a v-portrait also wondered about it.
This was the first time the v-portraits were framed and installed on walls, and viewed altogether like that, and—viewed by women who weren’t directly involved in making v-portraits. It was this amazing public/personal experience for each of us.
After the exhibition, I could not bring myself box them up to wait for the next one, so I installed them on my living room wall, above the couch.
Eventually, when the v-portraits exceeded that wall’s capacity, (which is 60 8″ x 10″ framed vagina portraits) I installed them on all of my living room walls.
For years, my apartment was vagina central.
At no point did I completely stop worrying about it.