Who knew vaginas could be so fashionable?
If you can use something or wear it, is it still art? If the statement of the piece doesn't hit you over the head but intensifies with greater meaning as time goes on, does that make it more important? Great art resonates, creating change even when you're not aware of what it's doing.
The Pussy Bow, which looks like a simple scarf, is really a revolutionary call. Christen Clifford is a provocative writer and a feminist performance artist whose latest project is a feminist action disguised as a fashion accessory.
In other words, Clifford has taken the topic of body-shameing — specifically vagina-shaming — and wrapped it up (literally) in a big pink bow.
Clifford told MTV News, "I grew up with so much shame about my body and my sexuality, and I don't want that for anyone else. Shame makes you feel like you yourself are inherently bad. Generations of women grew up feelings this way, and so many women artists before me have been trying to fight the shame."
The subjects of the female body, rape, reproductive rights and menstruation are often the subjects of Clifford's art projects.
As part of a performance art project with the dance group AUNTS at New York's Ace Hotel, Clifford used Siime Eye (a wireless internal-camera vibrator) to project images from inside of her vagina onto the walls of the hotel, and simultaneously broadcast to viewers on Periscope.
On her website, Clifford remembers that during the show, "All these people watching the stream messaged things like, 'Show me your p*ssy!' I guess they didn't understand that's what they were seeing."
While Clifford knew that the images were her own vagina, she was surprised at how spectacular they were.
"I thought the colors would be a deeper red," Clifford told the Daily Dot. "The pinks and purples and even blues that resulted were a surprise. The light on the camera highlighted my vaginal mucus to that lavender blue."
Clifford decided to create silk scarves with the images that were taken from the inside of her vagina.
Pussy Bow or pussycat bows are a style of neckwear that's been around since at least the 19th century, though they really took hold in the 20th century. During the 1980's, the Pussy Bow became a major part of Margaret Thatcher's political image after she became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
So why not make art out of a style of fashion that's actually called a Pussy Bow?
Clifford said, "I believe in humor in revolution. I think the Pussy Bow is funny — it's a literal interpretation of a fashion item that already exists. My work is inspired by feminist artists who have used the body as a formal sculptural element: Ana Mendieta, Hannah Wilke, Carolee Schneemann, Annie Sprinkle — women who work with ideas of vulvic space and femmage. It's also a way of turning the inside out in order to make it visible."
The Pussy Bow scarves are 100 percent silk, hand sewn, and sell for $50 each. Ten percent of all proceeds go to Planned Parenthood. Although it's been reported that Clifford created the Pussy Bows as a reaction to the horrible Planned Parenthood shootings, the Pussy Bow had already been created.
All photos: Tumblr
"The work existed and a friend tweeted about doubling her donation to PP. It just made sense, as I am a longtime supporter of reproductive rights," Clifford explained. "I had an abortion in college, have two great kids now, went to my first repro rights protest at 18, and am still active"
Clifford will continue to do her art, fight the patriarchy, and help change the body-shaming idea that the vagina is ugly.