Hannah & Marina
Guerilla Art Project: The Candy Cane Vulva Pipe
Nina and I painted the pipe by Lyman Lakes with the intention of passing on important information to our community in an eye-catching, educational, and assertive manner. We chose four facts about female orgasm, female anatomy, and medical misinformation in order to reveal truths about these topics. Hoping to open up a non-pornographic visual outlet for dialogue about and interest in female anatomy and sexuality, we chose to make the most dominant feature a bold question: Did you know? We wanted the title to attract viewers from afar, and to present the information in a way that made it clear that there was no expectation that viewers already knew the facts and that they were meant to learn from the words and paintings. Under the title we wrote: Understanding Female Anatomy, clarifying that the aim of the artwork was to learn, not to exploit an image or aggressively shame folks for being ignorant about the size of the clitoris.
Unfortunately, the process of making the art took three weeks and the pipe only remained painted for four days. The first day we went out it was cold and windy, and as we were (unsuccessfully) spray-painting the pipe yellow, two drunk men from Faribault who were playing Frisbee came over and talked to us for a while. They tried to help us spray paint, but we didn’t want to discuss our project and didn’t really respond to their chatter; we left. The two other days we worked outside, we had few interactions; occasionally friends walked by and said hi, or expressed interest and began to read. After we had finished, I received positive comments from friends. Many people saw it while walking to and from Rotblatt that weekend. Someone said they saw photographs of it posted on Facebook, with people posing next to it. I’m very disappointed that we offended someone with our piece and that it was subsequently painted over. I wonder about that person’s interaction with the art (what they read or didn’t read, how long they spent with the piece, who they were with, how they viewed the intention behind the work, etc).
I wonder what kind of a community we live in (at Carleton and on a broader scale), where media advertisements of greased up women holding phallic alcohol bottles become acceptable daily visual intake, while contextualized, hand-made, painted and labeled images of body parts are so offensive that no one should view them. (For example, I’m uncomfortable driving past many billboards on the highway, yet these public images I cannot have removed with one complaint.) Though I understand that the administration must respond to a person’s complaint, I would like to know what specifically offended the person (or to have a conversation with that person) so that future projects can live longer in our community.