Guest Post by Alexandra Jacoby, independent artist
Since September 2000, I’ve been capturing a glimpse of women’s most private selves. So private that most women have not seen their own, much less others. I’ve been making vagina portraits. They are close-up, documentary-style photographs of our vulvas—the elusive faces of our vaginas in plain view—so we can see ourselves for ourselves.
The project began when a friend of mine asked me if I liked the way my vagina looked. Apropos nothing: did I like the way my vagina looked? As I answered, I realized that I had never really taken a good look at it, and that other than a bit of porn, I hadn’t actually seen any other women’s vaginas.
I was pretty sure that they were all different, but had nothing to point to when talking with my friend, who clearly thought there was something wrong with how hers looked.
It struck me that there should be a book, a visual reference for women—of actual women. And, so began vagina vérité®—an unabashed exploration of the plain, ordinary, mysterious matter of our vaginas.
I’ve photographed 90 v-portraits so far—each beautiful and strikingly unique!
Before vagina vérité®, I hadn’t noticed how unusual it was for women to talk about our body-experiences. Not-talking was normal to me. In my experience, this silence, and the shame that underlies it, continues to be the norm. When I bring up the subject, and I often do, I am almost always met with surprise and discomfort.
In this space of not-talking, misinformation moves in, like my friend’s belief that her vulva was supposed to look a certain way.
I’d like to see this change.
I’d like us to talk about our body-experiences, and to have access to accurate information, images, and each other’s stories. I’d like to hear what you think, and about your experiences of your body. Mostly, I’d like this conversation to be normal. And, for that, I take action!
If you’re in the NYC-area, please join us at Vulvagraphics: an Intervention in Honor of Genital Diversity OCT 24-25, at The Change You Want To See gallery, 84 Havemeyer Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211.
It’s a space for conversation, organized by the New View Campaign, where you’ll experience vulva-celebrating art and crafts, including a preview of vagina vérité®. On Sunday, there’s a brunch salon. Check out the website for more details. Read the press release. I am VERY excited to be participating in Vulvagraphics! Come by and say hello. I look forward to talking with you!