an installation about Female Genital Mutilation
This project addresses the subject of female genitals, their natural beauty, and the sexual mutilation of millions of women. This practice is active in 28 African countries, areas of Asia and Arab nations, and is increasingly found in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the USA, primarily among immigrants from Africa and Southwest Asia.
UNICEF estimates that over 5,000 girls and young women undergo this torturous procedure each day and worldwide statistics show at least 130 million women today have had their genitals cut away.
Referred to by Africans ads a “ritual,” this mutilating procedure consists of cutting out the clitoris, labia minora, and parts of the labia majora. This cutting is performed mostly on young teenage girls, often by older women of the tribe who use razor blades, broken pieces of glass, or other sharp objects, without anesthesia.
Afterward, the sides of the vulva are sewn or pinned with thorns until they grow together. For intercourse or childbirth, the vagina is cut open again with a knife or other sharp object and then sewn back together. Women who have undergone this cutting commonly suffer lifelong vaginal infections, pain, difficulty walking, and even death.
The installation consists of two parts.
A wall of over one hundred vaginas made of clay shows female genitals as beautiful creations of nature. They are glazed in vibrant warm colors, and their sizes range between 3-10 cm.
Each one is different and shows the uniqueness of every woman.
On the floor along the next wall are triangular pieces which are 30cm long in size. These triangles, each pointing down and leading to a vagina, represent the symbol of Yoni Yontra. This Sanskrit symbol stands for the pubic area of a woman’s body and in philosophical concepts centers around creation, birth, motherhood, sexual attraction, and fulfillment. The medieval text Amor Proximi, describes it as the triangle of life.
The triangle is sculpted in the form of a flat container-tray in which grass, moss, herbs, and wildflowers are growing. These living triangles depict pubic hair and represent the life force and all of nature.
A second wall of vaginas stands across from the first and portrays the mutilated vagina as a creation of male dominance. These pieces are made from welded steel to capture the feeling of unnatural force used in this inhumane tradition. The dull gray color of the metal flatly portrays
the loss of vibrancy and sexual pleasure in the lives of these women.
My goal in creating this juxtaposition is to raise awareness of the beauty and differences in women while confronting the audience with the subject of genital mutilation, its horror, brutality and sadness, the control of women’s sexuality, and the need for it to end.