As an artist, of course I do seek attention – I want to express and communicate ideas, and refuse to feel compunction for that. Even in the face of criticism, I will make no apologies for my art.
Over the past two weeks, over 3.5m people have watched the YouTube clip… documenting my 28 day performance piece, Casting Off My Womb… The short clip… gives an overview of the work in which I used skeins of wool lodged in my vaginal tunnel to knit a long passage, marking one full menstrual cycle.
Yes, a mighty work. Colossal in its scope and profundity.
My image and work have been consumed, contemplated and commented on by millions across the globe. It’s interesting then, that all of this electronic crackle and buzz has not altered my identification with it at all… The response to the clip was immediate, massive and, for the most part, negative, marked with fear and repulsion. The word “ick” features heavily, as do “eww,” “gross” and “whyyyy?”
Well, pulling wool out of whatever bodily orifice it’s been crammed into, especially wool that’s smeared with menstrual blood, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, or idea of a rich aesthetic experience. In much the same way that the audience for viewing used tampons and used toilet paper is somewhat niche and limited. But then I’m sure Ms Jenkins knew that before she began, and indeed was counting on it. For the talentless, transgression is the only card to play. It’s therefore unsurprising that mockery, bewilderment and mild repulsion are insufficient to prompt Ms Jenkins to rethink her artistic medium and life choices more generally. Clearly, she is impervious to mere public feedback and is happy to construe disdain as in fact an affirmation:
Commentators seem to be genuinely outraged that I would dare to do something that they view as strange and repulsive with my body without displaying shame. Women putting themselves forward in any capacity in the world is frowned upon, and for a woman to put herself forward in a way that is not designed to be attractive or pleasing is downright seditious. People are incensed!
Yes, incensed, outraged and afraid. The patriarchy trembles. Proof, if proof were needed, of just how radical and daring Ms Jenkins really is.