Self-Examination of the Penetralia
6’ x 9’ x 12’
privacy screens, flocked latex, cast aluminum, hand blown glass, pelviscope, velvet, found cart, surveillance camera, digital video projector, DVD player, 4” LCD screen
Growing up in a medical household I was surrounded by discussions, most often at the dinner table, that focused on the human body: its diseases, its symptoms, its diagnosis, and its treatment. In my family of scientists, those conversations continue to this day. Over the years, I have come to recognize the profound effect that exposure has had on my art. Although my interest in the body and body politics originated in my childhood, it was during graduate school that I incorporated this fascination into my art.
In an effort to overcome both fear and ignorance of my own body, I began to research gynecology as a gender-specific metaphor. Although most scholars respond to their research in writing, as a visual artist the results of my critical analysis of the feminine body are expressed in works of art. I have studied medical instruments, anatomical models, historical texts, and anatomy theaters at institutions and museums throughout Europe and the United States, including the collections at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, the Old St. Thomas Operating Theater and the Thackray Medical Museum. One outcome of this research is a series of so-called obstetrical phantoms, or birthing models, including Self-Examination of the Penetralia. These models were, and still are, created for students to practice obstetrical procedures, including labor and delivery techniques. It is my intention to provoke contemplation on how we perceive, stereotype, and stigmatize the female body and question the history that molded the controversy surrounding reproduction.