Vaginal & E Plötz
An art project produced for Outside In 'Featured Artist' month
Click Image above to watch 'Vaginal' & 'E Plötz'
Throughout my life, career and as an artist I have gravitated towards feminism. The social and political movement, ideologies and gender equalities is a circumscribed position for women, such repute laws limit us. Womanhood always faces challenges from when a female is born we are retrograde, not to mention the colour of skin, sexual orientation, disability and more.
As an artist I have found my voice creatively expressing the inequalities experienced as a female, producing artworks within a series I have called ‘Pink!’
This includes ‘Move On’ a contemporary superhero art film displaying a cape tied onto the Godiva statue in Coventry, a guerrilla artwork complemented by a poem. This film is a visual representation of the lack of opportunities for women in the arts, the discrepancies of women in film and the deep rooted discrimination women suffer.
‘Beefcake’ is one of three photographs of me posing the pose, depicting ‘the female hero’ and ‘the angry young woman’. Beefcake is type of photography used for men, posing bare chested in front of the camera, creating the Hollywood heartthrob. This began in the 1920’s, loved and popular, no smiling at the camera, brooding, and looking dangerous. This artwork is also my representation of how historically women in film were made to take on stock characters such as the ‘Damsel in Distress’, ‘Dark Lady’, ‘Hopeless Romantic’... I could go on!
‘Fluidity’ is a body enactment, pouring pink liquid over my skin, demonstrating the lack of transparency in the arts. There are a lack of women leaders in galleries, theatres, film and higher education in the arts.
Left: Move On, Centre: Beefcake, Right: Fluidity
Although some people would say women have advantaged and women feel they are no longer ostracized in society, I do not think gaining the vote, being able to work or have the right to have a child out of wedlock has made women equal. There are still huge barriers for women; patriarchy is a systematic obstruction to women’s education, patronage, and opportunities to exhibit art.
I am a feminist, an issue I do not explore enough, however I feel this strongly connects to my primary theme of loneliness and the social politics of isolation (‘power loneliness in the arts’). As a contemporary artist I relate to the origins of conceptual art. Duchamp ‘Fountain’ was a gift from Baroness Elsa, the unsung hero of conceptual art, a female artist misunderstood and unrecognised. This is attestation of gender roles in the arts, which continues.
My new artworks, ‘Vaginal’ a digital art film (vaginal plays on the words vagina and urinal) and ‘E Plötz’ a modern ready-made urinal that creates my representation of Marcel Duchamp ‘Fountain’.
Above are images I have put together visualising how I see Duchamp's 'Fountain'
If the 1964 Fountain, a Mott’s plumbing urinal faced directly towards your vision it would depict a female reproductive system. I have experimented with this for my film featuring a woman wearing a suit jacket, white shirt, pink tie and trousers, she walks towards the urinal and urinates into it. I have also taken photographs of the woman standing in various positions with the urinal. My actor is YNES, a female Brit-punk musician I casted referencing to youth culture as an often visited subject matter within my art.
Sound is important too, if you listen carefully you can hear a ‘urinating’ sound which represents the shift of renegotiating, movement of a dominate history, to reposition a story and a cycle (possibly can be thought as a menstrual cycle).
There is also a photograph of the urinal blood stained.
The second part of the art film is called ‘E Plötz’. This shows me replacing the original pseudonym ‘R.Mutt’, and painting the words ‘E.Plötz’ on the side, a rework providing new meaning and also an act against masculine control.
"Mutt comes from Mott Works, the name of a large sanitary equipment manufacturer. But Mott was too close so I altered it to Mutt, after the daily cartoon strip 'Mutt and Jeff' which appeared at the time, and with which everyone was familiar. Thus, from the start, there was an interplay of Mutt: a fat little funny man, and Jeff: a tall thin man... I wanted any old name. And I added Richard [French slang for money-bags]. That's not a bad name for a pissotière. Get it? The opposite of poverty. But not even that much, just R. MUTT."
- Marcel Duchamp, 1971
Below is 'Vaginal' and 'E Plötz' artwork photography
‘Vaginal’ and ‘E Plötz’ is complimented with a poem I wrote called ‘Holy Skirt’, my homage to ‘Holy Skirts’ a poem written by German avant-garde Dadaist artist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhove. Women wearing skirts were deemed only for women referred as the pretty gender and unintelligent. The title of my poem also notes to upskirting, a sexually intrusive act.
[Audio coming soon]
The poem references to the many subjugated instances and artistic restrictions. The word ‘bloody’ is about the menstrual cycle (other examples; ‘Gods blood’, ‘bloody Mary’) and the saying ‘bloody hell’ explains the living hell women experience and has been considered to be used within the lower class or vulgar. My poem ‘Holy Skirt’ is our oath for women.
‘Ten and a half inch’ references to Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven plumbing pipe artwork ‘God’. ‘Don’t fall for it’ and ‘He is not pardon sin’ refers to Genesis tree of the knowledge, 'The ‘Fall of Man’ the obedience of God.
Traditionally, women have received the major blame for the fall of humanity. The subordination exegesis is that the natural consequences of sin entering the human race was prophesied by God when the phrase was made: the husband "will rule over you". This interpretation is reinforced by comments in the First Epistle to Timothy, where the author gives a rationale for directing that a woman (possibly wife) should learn in quietness and full submission. It says; "I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man (possibly husband); she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." [1 Tim. 2:11–14]
Therefore, some interpretations of these passages from Genesis 3 and Timothy 2 have developed a view that women are considered as bearers of Eve's guilt and that the woman's conduct in the fall is the primary reason for her universal, timeless, subordinate relationship to the man.
‘Vaginal’ and ‘E Plötz’ is my creation of a common act as a colluded resistance of passage, a construction of our alternative power, my anachronistic act. Period.
Below are photographs taken during the making of 'Vaginal' and 'E Plötz'
Photos taken by Mandip Singh Seehra LRPS
Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhove