Category Archives: bodylife

Two trees, near their tops, bark and without leaves. A couple of bodies in conversation with each other, being watched by me.

Bodylife

It’s your home, your body, but not merely a container—and it doesn’t really shelter you. It’s your surface. It’s your capacity for touch. I want to second-guess every word (like capacity) because really this is the first time I’ve tried to abstract what-all I’m getting at when I begin to think about bodylife. Not to mention what it feels like to do things with our bodies, through our bodies. Walking, kissing, yoga, running, sweating, anything that makes you sweat.

I haven’t even begun to touch on the things women’s bodies do and experience throughout menstruation-reproduction processes. The range of experiences happening day by day when it comes to your period, pregnancy, birth, post-natal life, post-menstrual life…is varied and personal and flat out awe-inspiring—and shunned out of view, co-opted and controlled by politicians and other non-science-based thinkers. 

Then there’s the violence (one in three women will be beaten, raped or killed) and discrimination based on gender, our non-male bodies. And the objectification, and endless assessments and comparisons, by them, by us.

What we were and weren’t told, the beliefs and assumptions and expectations we formed, regardless of what we wanted. What we did and felt. What was done to us. All this comprises our bodylives.

Each of us holds so much history in our bodies. So many stories. I wonder how it is for men, or anyone who self-identifies their gender in another way. It’s just I’m focused on female bodylife with my work. Trying to get to normal. And to completely undermine it.

Bleeding Hearts / Lovewall by jgoldcrown and passersby.

Hunted

Every time I hear about another setback, my reflex reaction is to tense hard and run away.

There is, as of yesterday, another restriction on abortions in our country: in Georgia from six weeks on, they are banned. So, that’s you missing one period to give you the heads up about your pregnancy, and then a max of two weeks to make the decision and make it happen, while maintaining your life —family, work, commitments, restrictions and considerations, like privacy and safety and money and time. Time. Enough time for everything and everyone you will need to do, think about, talk through and actually getting there to wherever there might be a clinic or hospital that will take care of you.

It’s not going to stop, this active pursuit of us. It feels like pursuit because indeed we are, being chased down. State by state, region by region. Hunted like slaves who got away. Temporarily safe in the next country over. Only we’re all here. And we’re not safe. We never were. Safe.

We have yet to be mentioned in our Constitution.

I have been taking so much for granted.

—–

Image: Bleeding Hearts / Lovewall by jgoldcrown and passersby.

A friend telling me why she didn't attend the exhibition.

It’s still so much about what they think

 “I wanted to go, I really did… I was with my boyfriend that weekend and with all the vaginas on display, I would be embarrassed if he spotted mine and knew I posed!”

A friend asked me the question that gave birth to vagina vérité (do you like the way your vagina looks?) during the summer of 2000. I shot my first vagina portrait that September. Documentary-style photographs, just a little larger than life—for women, so we could see ourselves for ourselves.

Over the course of ten years, I made over 100 vagina portraits. The women who posed may, or may not, have been comfortable with their bodies, or with being seen. They range in age and lifestyle, and relationship with their vaginas. The only thing they have in common is trusting me with their v-portraits.

All along, I kept thinking that maybe I didn’t really need to do this. Each time I saw that The Vagina Monologues was being performed or that the word “vagina” was showing up on tv, I thought these were signs of the end of a chapter, that we were good, we had space for our bodies and our stories. It’s amazing how I could take such small moments (important moments, but still just moments) and extrapolate out what I wanted to be true. That we had sovereignty over our bodies, that it was our view that mattered. That we would trust ourselves first. Before anyone else’s idea (or what we think they think), that we were trusting ourselves before any claim about how we should be, as womxn, having a body.

“I wanted to go, I really did… I was with my boyfriend that weekend and with all the vaginas on display, I would be embarrassed if he spotted mine and knew I posed!”

The exhibition she didn’t attend was on 08-Dec-2018, titled Normal Is Diverse. You can read some of the thoughts of some of the womxn and mxn who attended here.

Self-portrait winter 2017

I have always wanted to be invisible.

I have always wanted to be invisible.

Just talk to me. Don’t look at me.

Looking didn’t feel like interest. Respect wasn’t a given among us. That’s how it felt to me. Everyone a critic. Of everyone else.

Seemed like all we did was look up and down each other, and rate what we saw.

So, when I see that you’ve looked, at me,

I need to know: why are you looking?

What do you want from me?

To do with me. 

I know you’re skimming my surface and assessing its value to you. I felt it every time I was told to be careful at night.

Surface looking. That’s all we talked about, the surface of things, of people. Our ratings became truth because we didn’t discuss it. We just did what we thought we had to do. Rate, agree with the first, or loudest rating, counter-rate, debate, take a poll and group rate. The surface.

I think it just seemed like the simplest solution. If I was invisible, I wouldn’t have to deal with this problem of how you see me. or any body.

Beastie Boys mural by Danielle Mastrion on Ludlow Street, at Rivington

Day after releasing “normal is diverse”

I spent the day after the exhibition, yesterday, in zombie slow-motion mode, wandering around some, and I haven’t really begun to absorb the experience. All of this hindered by the mind-numbingly bad smell of the cleaning solution the studio used, that many places are using, is this a conspiracy? My apartment is filled with the smell because it got into the boards backing the images and the papers used by viewers to post their thoughts IRL. I’m told by a friend who’s banned the stuff from her business that it’s called Fabuloso. It’s really bad. Why do people think this smell = clean?

So, I’ll be unpacking my mind bit by bit. It was, otherwise, such a good night. For me, for the work, the release of “normal is diverse”. For us. Because this really is about us, and making space to look at ourselves, this important aspect of ourselves, and reflect, discuss, not be alone with how we see ourselves in relation to others. How we compare ourselves as if we are the sum of our parts. And why. Why do we compare?

Just wanted to share one thought today, from vagina vérité viewers:

“Thank you! I never knew I needed this until I came!”

Thank you back! I want to thank everyone who came and who wrote down their thoughts to share with everyone else, attending normal is diverse, and who will attend future exhibitions. I kicked off our posting space with thoughts from attendees of early exhibitions. Looking forward to the next one and including Saturday’s IRL posts there.