When most people think of art they imagine gorgeous landscapes or striking portraits hanging in galleries, not a naked woman knitting a scarf with wool from her vagina. Back in 2013 Casey Jenkins set the internet on fire when a video of her doing just this went mega viral.
“I was reflecting on society’s expectations of people with bodies like mine and how they impacted or aligned with my own desires and ambitions,” explains the Australian artist. The performance piece was called “Casting Off My Womb” and saw her knit from wool inserted into her vagina for 28 days – to mark one full menstrual cycle.
“I essentially wanted to quiet down the noise of community expectations and decide for myself what I will do with my body,” Jenkins continues. The piece which she knitted inevitably contained some menstrual blood and it seemed that this was what really riled people.
“There were thousands and thousands of comments, which were largely negative but also highly repetitive,” Jenkins explains. Research has found that trolls’ comments are indeed repetitive and predictable and it is exactly this which Jenkins is exploring in her latest endeavour.
Her new performance piece highlights the persistent policing of women’s bodies and sees Jenkins dye wool with her menstrual blood. Using the dyed blood for the writing, she then knits the mean comments into the work using a modern mechanical method – to imitate they way in which the comments were formulated. If you haven’t seen the video which shot her to fame, you can check it out here.
“The people perpetuating the bigotry seem just as constrained and restricted as the little gender expectation boxes they hammer on about,” Jenkins says of her latest project. A couple of the prototypes are on display on the George Paton gallery in Melbourne and her main performance, entitled “Programmed to Reproduce”, will take place in March 2017 during Melbourne’s Festival of Live Art (FOLA).
Certainly, this seems like an empowering idea but let’s just hope you don’t catch your grandma indulging in any vaginal knitting any time soon. For another weird news story, check out our piece on this woman who is using her own period blood to create beautiful art.