Facing the Vagina

My artwork adopts the position of certain feminist criticism of Freudian and Lacanian theory, emphasising the procreative power of women and the strong dyadic bond between mother and child.

Patriarchal society and the father desire to disrupt that relationship. The male child is taught that he must take up a dominant position in society and that women, and his own feminine characteristics (‘Don’t cry like a girl’) are inferior and must be despised and rejected.

The boy is torn between his vulnerable, emotional need for his mother and the imperative to move into social masculinity. He develops a desire/despise split towards his m[other], which turns to resentment and hatred of her power to make him feel vulnerable.

These mixed feelings are carried to other interactions with women. Female sexuality, her power of procreation and her primary power over every child have to be countered and controlled by male society through tradition, religion, medicine – and violence.

In three-dimensional sculptural forms (Facing the Vagina 1 - 13), I represent the threat (to male control) of female sexuality in its powerful pre-patriarchal form, as it is still expressed in myths such as the ‘Vagina Dentata’, the castrating vagina or the Medusa’s head.