The Great Wall of Vagina

Great Wall of Vagina

Women’s genitals have always been a source of fascination, they have been celebrated during recent years, but they have also been the source of much confusion. British artist Jamie McCartney has been occupied with this delicate subject and he created a monumental wall sculpture delving into the most intimate part of the female body. The Great Wall of Vagina project began almost five years ago and it has sparked a global, positive response from women worldwide, who volunteered in order to be cast and participate.

His work consists of a nine-meter long, multi-paneled installation which comprises four hundred, unique plaster casts of vulvas, divided in ten large panels. The artist’s intention was to make this project as inclusive as possible. Women who have participated in the project range between 18 and 76 years of age. The exhibited casts belong to mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgender men and women, one woman pre and post-partum and another woman before and after she underwent labiaplasty.

It is not an obscene sight. It does not appeal only to the senses, as this art also has a social orientation, as McCartney wants people to stop, look and listen. His work is eye-catching, it employs humor and spectacle, while educating people about what normal women really look like ‘down there’. This work has been deemed “the Vagina Monologues of sculpture” and it aspires to change female lives forever.

Many women feel self-conscious about their genitalia and I had the joyous occasion to be able to change that feeling.

There are as many different vulvas and labia as are faces – a little-known fact, especially for women. McCartney hopes this sculpture will help ease that anxiety and resist the huge recent increase in cosmetic labial surgery. The trend to create ‘perfect’ vaginas is worrying and it is actually consensual female mutilation, while creating a anxious precedent.

The Great Wall of Vagina is fascinating and revealing, but not pornography, nor erotica.  It is not about arousal or excitement. McCartney has successfully changed something sexual into nonsexual. The viewer does not feel shame; quite to the contrary, one is in awe and amazement before this exhibition of human variety.

Social obstacles are overcome through art, as its language is visual, thus universal. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true here. Irrespectively of the viewer’s language, he can digest the information in seconds, before looking away. In politics, discussions and attempts to persuade often reach a dead end – if your interlocutor does not agree, he can disconnect from the discussion early on. The title The Great Wall of Vagina is deliberately playful and intriguing. It draws the viewer in without deterring him.

“Our society must now become more mature about these issues and I feel that art can contribute in this effort.” – Jamie McCartney

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