Vulva self portraits

CW: Rape

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This series is completely made out of thrifted and recycled materials.

This series is very intimate and very layered. They are very pleasant to look at but carry a very personal story. It tells one of the hardest stories I have to tell, even though the story itself may not be visible at first sight.

The works itself are soft, friendly, inviting to touch, and very open. The fact that I’ve nailed them to the wall is because I associate them with my own vulva, and like them, I’ve also been hurt.

Making these works, these portraits of my own vulva, have helped me process what has happened to me, and are, at least for me, a very subtle first step, to dare share some of my experiences.

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This first one has the shape of some of the shells I used to find at the beach. I loved the rings, the sea and sand has given it, like age rings on trees. Like the inside of your vagina.

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This pearl button as clitoris is another link to the sea. A clitoris isn’t rare but somehow some people find it hard to find… just like pearls. They are precious gems of your body. They invite touching.

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This fuzziness is what I think the inside feels like. Of course this material is dry, which the vulva and vaginas are not. They are, however, soft, and the color of my skin.

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Another one representing labia, which come the funnest, varied, interesting forms, lengths and thickness. It also looks like nets used to catch fish. Something I felt has also happened to me.

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This is perhaps the most obvious shell, again used as clitoris. The spirals symbolise the labia, and also the literal spirals of depression and post traumatic stress syndrome I suffer from.

 

I honestly think the shape of shells, clams and oysters show similarities with vulvas and vaginas. But why do I associate vulvas and vaginas with the beach and the sea this strongly?

What makes these works autobiographical is the personal relation my vulva has to the sea. When I was younger I went collecting shells on the beach. I walked by myself, for a long time, looking at my toes, and got lost. After walking for a long time, I was so far away from my parents and other people that I panicked. This is also when I noticed that I wasn’t alone, and that a man with a really large dog were tailing me. This is where and when I was brutally raped as a 12 year old kid. I can’t remember much of it. I try not to remember it, or go back to it as little as possible… but I can remember that I was just collecting shells, and that I was trying to wash away all the blood in the sea after I was finally released. I thought I’d die in the sea.

After that traumatic experience I have always linked the sea and the beach to that experience, to my body, to my vagina, to my trauma.

 

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