There are sculptures made for the public to interact with them, to touch their surface, feel their weight, and feel the materials. It’s only through a closer look that we can fully appreciate all of its elements. However, all those kinds of works that are available to the public’s reach are few and far apart.
Jacqueline Secor is an American artist who is breaking those boundaries between spectator and art through works made for touching: interactive vaginas. The inspiration behind this work is one that most people are all too familiar with: the struggle of searching for perfection in one’s own body.
Secor’s project came after suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, as well as being part of a toxic relationship where her partner pressured her into getting her tattoo and piercing removed. Like many women, she’s had to overcome the societal constructs that keep women feeling like they need to achieve whatever physical attributes or ideals are preferred by those around them.
The introductory text for the series Diversity of Nature seems to encompass the daily struggles of imposed standards of beauty: “Best. Worst. Perfect. Gross. These are words that are too often used to describe female bodies. Women and girls face daily criticisms, not over the quality of their accomplishments or the content of their hearts, but of the bodies they were born in.”
Each body is different and unique. Each experiences pleasure and pain in their own way. To believe there is such a thing as the perfect or most natural body is to wear an ideological mask that benefits from what Michel Foucalt called Biopolitics, where governments would seek control over what is acceptable or unacceptable on a biological level.
Through the interaction with these pieces, the audience is able to understand on a deeper level the complexity of the female anatomy. In an interview with Vice’s Creators Project, Secor mentions how her shift in artistic focus has received interesting responses in her Salt Lake City community. "I was really shocked by the amount of Mormon women who actually unfriended me or quit associating with me altogether when they saw my art."
The idea that the first response tends to be of repulsion or to demand censorship is a sign of our modern environment. In patriarchal cultures female bodies are systematically disappeared or violently discarded. We don’t have to look far to find news of femicides and violence against women.
This project opens the space for conversation on the different aspects of the body. Each work is an homage to the originality and individuality of the female form. Each of these vaginas is a proof of how they’re beautiful through their different aspects. By touching these sculptures, the audience can slowly begin to understand why they are to be protected and respected. Perhaps this will start to sink in the minds of those who find them "gross" or "unsightly."
Have you heard of the Instagram account that seeks to find the female sex in the everyday? Just like with vaginas, why are women's nipples constantly censored?
Translated by María Suárez