Who: Jamie McCartney
What: ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
Where: Hay Hill Gallery, London
We could pass instant comedic comment on this show and make reference to it as the alternative ming(e) dynasty or as an instigator for a new visual embodiment of the term ‘open sesame.’ But we won’t. Whilst others have dubbed artist of this piece, Jamie McCartney as a ‘vulva sculptor’ we shall look at it with serious eyes. Oh yes.
‘The Great Wall of China‘ exhibit is part of current show, ‘Skin Deep’ for which McCartney created moulds from in between the legs of 400 female volunteers. Whilst female genitalia has long been the hot topic amongst pornographers and feminists, it is rare that women are encouraged to think about it or become less anxious about what they look like in that department. McCartney’s aim is to at first humour, make familiar and then educate people about what women really look like. Described as ‘art with a social conscience’ and unsurprisingly, ‘the Vagina Monologues of sculpture,’ the work is intended to combat the increase of cosmetic labial surgeries and reject the idea of the perfect vagina, in favour of the wondrous variety of the human form.
The intentions of this show are undoubtedly admirable and designed to be uplifting in the face of society’s unfavourable perspectives. But these intended ideas easily get lost amongst the unavoidable amusement visitors experience on first seeing it. And a pause for serious thought afterwards? Tell someone you’ve been to see ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’ and more than likely they won’t be able to enter a serious discussion with you about how female genitalia en masse can help to change the image of the female body.
Nevertheless, a fascinating and certainly memorable show.
8th May – 2nd Jume 2012.
Hay Hill Gallery, Cork Street, London, W1s 3NY.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri: 11am – 6pm; Sat: 11am – 5pm.
Images from GreatWallofVagina.co.uk