The Great Wall of Vagina (NSFW)

There really is no better person to explain this project than the artist himself who says on his website:

“For this, my latest major sculpture, I cast, over the course of 5 years, the vaginas (well the vulva area in fact) of hundreds of volunteers. The Great Wall of Vagina is an exploration of women’s relationships with their genitals.

When I assembled the first panel of 40 casts, arranged in a grid, I stepped back disappointed. I realised the sculpture would need to be much bigger to have the impact I wanted. From this original piece (called Design A Vagina) has grown an epic sculpture. The final piece now has 400 casts arranged in 10 panels of 40.

“Why did I do it and what’s it all about?” I hear you ask. Well, vulvas and labia are as different as a faces and many people, particularly women, don’t seem to know that. Men tend to have seen more than women, who have often only seen their own, and many have never looked that closely. Hence the exposure of so many, showing the variety of shapes is endlessly fascinating, empowering and comforting.

For many women their genitals are a source of shame rather than pride and this piece seeks to redress the balance, showing that everyone is different and everyone is normal.

The sculpture comments on the trend for surgery to create the ‘perfect’ vagina. This modern day equivalent of female genital mutilation is a bizarre practice which suggests that one is better than another. Taste in nothing is universal and any desire for ‘homogyny’ could be very misguided.

Vulva Sculptor James McCartney

360 casts arranged in this manner is in no way pornographic, as it might have been if photographs had been used. One is able to stare without shame but in wonder and amazement at this exposé of human variety.

For the first time for many women they will be able to see their own genitals in relation to other women’s. In doing so they may dispel many misconceptions they may have been carrying about what women look like ‘down there’. The sculpture is serene and intricate and it works on many levels. A UK tour is in the planning stages [no word yet on an Australian tour – Ed]

Included are examples of male to female and female to male transsexuals, a virgin, a porn star and some women with some elaborate piercings.

Ages so far range from 18 year old students to a grandmother of 76. I really wanted to include as many possibilities as I could. I spent the entire 5 years seeking a victim of female genital mutilation who would like to be included but sadly without success. The more inclusive and complete I could be in this survey the more power this sculpture would have.”

Remember the post we shared about the very not-safe-for-work requirement of vaginas to be digitally altered under Australian law? That’s what Jamie’s artwork is all about. Showing the individuality of the vagina.

There’s artistic merit here in that Jamie says vaginas from around the world have cultural nuances. A vagina in Asia is not the same as a vagina in Europe and so on. They’re vaginas, but they’re not the same.

Watch a little behind the scenes of the whole vagina casting here:

[youtube rd7vtToUD0A 640 390]

Any questions? Yes? Oh, well here are Jamie’s frequently asked:

Who does the casting?
I take all the body moulds myself.

How does it work?
I apply the moulding materials to your vulva, it sets in about a minute and then I remove it and pour plaster into this mould to make the finished cast.

How long does it take?
It only takes about five minutes, it’s very quick.

A Labia Of Love

Do I have to be shaved?
No not necessarily. Hair produces less good results so a close trim is better than the full bush! Shaving does produce the best results but it really is up to you.

Does the plaster pull out any hair?
Not usually. I don’t use plaster and I also use a release agent to stop that happening.

Does it hurt?
Not at all. Most people describe it as an unusual or interesting sensation, bordering on pleasant!

What do you use?
I use a material called alginate. It is a seaweed based powder that when mixed with water sets into a rubber in about a minute.

Is it safe?
Alginate is designed to be used inside the mouth by dentists and is completely skin safe.

Do you pay?
No, it’s voluntary. I want people to do it who like the concept.

Can I bring my partner?
Of course. You can bring anyone along you like. Bring a few friends and you can all encourage each other.

So. Any thoughts? Do you think it’s important for women to know what other women look like?

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