Lecture - Seeing Red: The Flow of Words, the Statement of Bodies, and the Art of Menstruation
Objectives and Content
Menstruation is a biological process, but its meaning is gendered. And because its largely a womans
experience, it`s devalued
Gloria Steinem, If Men Could Menstruate
Menstrual blood is the only source of blood that is not traumatically induced. Yet in modern society, this is the most hidden blood, the one so rarely spoken of and almost never seen
Judy Grahn Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World
....menstrual activism strives to resist menstrual shame, and expand knowledge and care options.
(Menstrual) Art challenges the viewer to assess their assumptions about menstrual taboos. (it)
upends what is taken for granted, becoming power.
Chris Bobel, New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation
Even a cursory glance at the biological and culture history of the human body, exposes the repression and obliteration of the menstrual cycle and its relocation to the undetected places of virtual invisibility and multiple silences. The concealed repressions encompassing the avoided language of menstruation not only suppresses the material syntax of the feminine body (and severs a larger detailed cultural speech surrounding the human body in general), but indicates how the bio-politics of life are spoken through societal power and misrepresented in interpersonal control. Maybe not surprisingly, given the continuous silencing of the human body as a whole in western culture, menstruation is the penultimate grounding expression of both the undissolvable affiliation between the Material-biological and linguistic-cultural spheres. The consistent processes and continual oscillations of the menses and cycle captures the formulating body which moves from inside to outside, from bio-matter to a cultural-ideology, and then returns in hearty abandon. Though often contained under the terms of the ¿natural¿ and ¿non-modifiable.¿, menstruation, exposes in its avoidances in the social vocabulary, its ground in the semiotics of politics, the language of social and ideology of the cultural.
Met in the multiple resistances of the body the representational discourse of the "period" confronts the silences imposed on it and exposes the menstrual as site of contention. This site of contention beckons for a language which ventures from the singularities and repressed of the material to a field of the reconsidered and reformulated body. Trace and core, a hint and a statement of the body, the absent social of Menstruation pushes off from stagnant material to a flowing, open process of matter rupturing the misplaced confinements of language.
This Lecture will look at the Representation and Body of Menstruation through the Art of the "Period" (Period art, Menstruala, Menstrual art, and infrequently called Menstralia, or Menstrala) and the how a trajectory of art and artists look at this art focus as a means to 1) problematize the patriarchic language imposed on the biology of the body (as a art methodology to indicate alternative economies and functions of the body) 2) indicate the invisibilities and obliterations on diverse subjectivities by totalizing systems of matter and understandings, or even 3) Menstrual art as means to re-introduce the normality of bodily function into the play of social refusals.
Beginning with "Red Flag", by Judy Chicago (1971) and "Menstruation Wait", by Leslie Labowitz-Starus (1971) , the course will work up to the contemporary including "Beauty in Blood", by Jen Lewis (2015) and "The Night Garden" by Liv Strömquist (2017). Along with the historical lineage of the art focus this talk will look at the history and questions of Menstrual Art and what is entailed in both its art lineages (Body Art, Body Fluid Art, Body Boundary Art) and its contemporary art production methodology.