Several women, emailed, messaged or approached me after my talk about the appropriation and medicalisation of birth at the InGear conference, to tell me about their birth experiences or just to say they’d found my talk interesting and two people, told me about the husband stitch, which if I’d heard of before, I had pushed into my subconscious as its very disturbing. I started researching it and decided to make another short video about it, a little performance to camera. So, I made a giant needle and another wolf mask, from a pair of black nylon tights, this time with pointy wolf ears and a long cardboard snout. I also bought a lab coat, new from the student shop (every single lab coat, just as a matter of interest was labelled a ‘man’s’. This purchase I justified by telling myself I would probably use it in several different performance’s in the future. It means for this performance I can look like the wolf obstetricians in my etching (Pregnancy and the Bad Doctors).
I had an idea I wanted to make another character, possibly to be in a video which might include a little narrative/puppet show, happening in the mouth of the vagina. I wanted to make her a red woman, because of menstruation and rawness and some vague idea about red eaqualling sexuality (and there’s the scarlet woman of course), fertility and wisdom. Also, from the character that appears in my Dads book, The Smoke People, who is called Breca and is the mother of all dragons. She is ancient and wise, and I think brown or reddy-brown and wears a long red tunic maybe. She has long white hair and shrivelled up breasts, though she breastfeeds the villain.
I looked up ‘red woman’ and found a tribe of woman (The Himba from Namibia) who paint themselves with red ochre and clay, but who say it’s just aesthetic rather than bestowed with any meaning or purpose and apart from them all I could find was a character in Game of Thrones. Then someone suggested ‘red goddess’ and that produced more interesting results.
A book called ‘The Red Goddess’. She seems to a sort of modern goddess of love and revelation. She is sometimes called Babalon or the Whore of Babalon (also known as the Scarlet Woman, Great Mother or Mother of Abominations). She can be found in The Book of Law by Aleister Crowley (English writer and occultist). In her most abstract form she represents the female sexual impulse and the liberated woman also Mother Earth in her most fertile sense. She rides a beast and carries the Holy Grail (love and death).
This mostly fits quite well with what I wanted. I made her from scraps of red silk and felt. She is posable, as I used the doll wire Goodie gave me for my birthday, along with the green eyes and black hair she also gave me. I made her a bit like me, skinny, long torso, legs and arms, small breasted and bendy. The eyes are way too big for her face and are only the iris and pupils. I have made them her only features. She is very weird and a bit comic looking, which I like and I have photographed her in and on various parts of the installation.
I have made a two-and-a-half-minute video from all the photos and footage of the making of the installation and have done a voice over with bits of my poetry and also bits of research read out. I think its probably more of a process piece than a finished piece of work.
I have since taken apart the installation as it was, with the branches and bits of fabric hanging in it, which I felt was too like a wish tree (which did kind of work ok, but I got fed up with the look of it and felt it was too vague and whimsical). I started remaking it with a fabric tunnel from the back of the giant vulva, which you can look through to the mini one on the wall which has the etching of the bad wolf doctors and the pregnant woman in it. For the wolf performance, the giant needle threaded with string can be threaded through the lips of the vulva to perform the husband stitch in visceral and exaggerated way. I made a rough test version of this video today.
I have started to add images into these posts now and to pull everything together for assessment and not start any major new work!