THE WANKING PROJECT
and VESSEL III
Photography/film and ceramic sculpture installation
**This work won the John C. Kerr Chancellor Award for Excellence in Visual Art.
This installation is comprised of projected film behind a large hand-built ceramic uterus. The GIF-like film features photographs of hands in positions of masturbation. Quickly flipping from one photograph to the next the hands almost appear to be animated as they move from right hand dominant, to symmetrical positions, to left hand dominant and back. As over 50 photographs are looped the pace quickens at each loop before starting over again, ambiguously referencing an anticlimactic moment perhaps or the habitual beginning again and again. Not all of the hands are women or women-identified but all of these hands belong to people with vulvas. With the absence of any sexual organs the gestural quality of the photographs look like sign language. The ceramic sculpture is a warm-toned raw clay body of a uterus. Complete with internal clitoris the static sculpture contrasts the softly moving hands and gives a sense of anatomy and sex education. The clay is a rough and rustic body, fired to temperature and stained to a warm speckled glow.
The ceramic sculpture is a continuation of an earlier project called 'Vessel' which was created at a time when abortion rights were just beginning to be rediscussed and abused. The work spoke to sexuality, sex education and even the clitoris, while at the same time remarking on the treatment of women as a vessel; put on a pedestal, life-giver yet object, reproductive rights controlled and sexuality suppressed.
The Wanking Project and the film component came about as a furthered response to 'female' sexuality, specifically masturbation. In the media, women masturbating is portrayed as romantic, objectified, candle-lit; she buys herself lingerie and pours a bubble bath--while male masturbation is habitual, mechanic, comical, realistic and normal. By photographing these hands absent of genitalia, I intended to disrupt an unrealistic representation that only exists for the male gaze. I wanted to create a work that can teach, start conversation and remove taboo while taking up space. The sign language quality of these gestures puts into question why a phallic gesture is so recognizeable and useful in language whether for comedic affect or to add to verbal expression, while the 'female' version is non-existent. How does this lack of a 'female' gesture affect gendered space in language, storytelling and communication? What are the greater implications?
See Films to view the film component of 'The Wanking Project.'
For an interview by ECUAA click here.