Menstrala: menstrual art. Creating art from period blood. Yes, this is weird and strange and out of the norm but I also find it fascinating and I imagine to be liberating. I can just imagine your grotesque faces, twisted with horror but admit it: you feel fascination as well. And you can see how it can be liberating. Something so shrouded with stigma (God forbid we talk about periods in public or girls walk to bathrooms without veiling their tampons/pads with a folder and their shame) just being brought into light. Just like that. Revolted by period blood? Oh, here it is, in a painting. Beat that with a stick, motherfucker.
Anyways, where was I? Here’s a work by Vanessa Tiegs, who has extensive menstrala work.
However revolted you are by the fact that the red strokes you see were made by a female body’s excrement, you have to admit that there’s nothing but talent here. Using such an intimate source of pigment is almost like exposing your soul… Isn’t it? Or is that just me at 5 AM when sleep is kicking in?
I find this incredibly beautiful, think what you want of me.
Here’s South African artist Zanele Muholi’s work, a commentary on rape being used as a “cure” for lesbianism in some regions of Africa.
What she has to say about it: To read more about, click here.
Isilumo siyaluma is a Zulu expression that can be loosely translated as “period pains/ periods pain”. Additionally, there is an added meaning in the translation that there is something secretive in and about this blood/“period in time.”
At one level, my project deals with my own menstrual blood, with that secretive, feminine time of the month that has been reduced within Western patriarchal culture as dirty.
On a deeper level then, my menstrual blood is used as a vehicle and medium to begin to express and bridge the pain and loss I feel as I hear and become witness to the pain of ‘curative rapes’ that many of the girls and women in my black lesbian community bleed from their vaginas and their minds.
To read more about, click here.
Another artist who combats the stigma of periods being dirty and unclean is May Ling Su. One of her videos is of her going to the beach naked and smearing herself with her period blood, breaking the whole can’t-go-to-the-beach-while-on-your-period “rule.” Here’s an image:
There are entire communities and forums dedicated to menstrala. Here’s a fragile and delicate piece from Blood Art-Menstrala Live Journal community:
See you all next week, same time, same place.