Let the Flowers of Democracy bloom!
The last thing you want to picture when you think of your pussy is Donald Trump. But “grab them by the pussy” has now become a phrase that will forever stalk the lexicon of popular culture. Before the president of the United States bragged about his sexual harassment of innocent women, the war between the patriarchy and pussies had already been quietly brewing for longer than anyone would like to admit.
From the mass treatment of “hysteria”, to female genital mutilation, to banning abortions, our pussies and everything to do with its pleasure and reproductive purposes have been under attack long before Trump brought his tiny hands anywhere near one. However, the fact that the leader of the world’s largest democracy is a “pussy grabber” is a seriously dangerous declaration of an outright war against pussies and everything it stands for.
Vaginas and pussies are so often taboos even in the most liberal of societal contexts. Within the sphere of contemporary art, the portrayal of vaginas (especially by women) is seen as contentious and even criminal. Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested twice for distributing digital templates of her vagina for 3D printing. Works by Georgia O’Keeffe, whose flower paintings have almost exclusively been interpreted as sexual, regardless of O’Keeffe’s vehement resistance to this interpretation. In an interview with The Guardian, Tate Modern’s director of exhibition Achim Borchardt-Hume said “ the decision to host a major O’Keeffe retrospective also came from an awareness that the contribution of women to 20th-century art was “still at risk of being overshadowed by men”.
Although you might come across plenty of female nudes or vaginas in museums and galleries, you have to ask how many of those were by women. In fact, how many pieces of art in museums or galleries overall are by women? And how many of them are by women of colour or women from regions disadvantaged by conflict and oppression?
Maria Kulikovska first launched Flowers of Democracy in the summer of 2015 in Ukraine, to highlight and protest the detrimental impact of the conflict in Ukraine on women. Kulikovska together with a team of like-minded activists, created plaster moulds of their own vaginas and placed these sculptures in flowerpots, public steps and fountains surrounding government buildings. The casts of vaginas are a powerful and unashamed declaration of empowerment.
The Flowers of Democracy was brought to London in 2016 with Art Represent. FoD 2016 aimed to create a wider dialogue around gender equality and feminism. The volunteers placed these flowers of democracy in various locations around London that symbolised gender inequalities
The Flowers of Democracy aims to question our ideas of gender roles and to encourage a more intimate and unashamed interaction with the vagina itself. To openly look at the private self of a woman’s body that continues to be discussed, controlled, and abused by external political circumstances; abortion rights, rights to contraception, to choose against Female Genital Mutilation, sex trafficking, and being second class citizens for simply being/identifying with being a woman.
But we should be embracing the female form rather than be ashamed by it. Reclaim the vagina and be empowered by it. Don’t be afraid of the pussy!
If you want to join the movement and take FoD to your city, you can find our more info HERE.
You can also buy an FoD t-shirt designed and printed by the artist!