What women look like – dissent

Lawrence Boothby doesn’t think much of sculptor Jamie McCartney’s plaster vulvas:

Vulva inset - 250Pale, monochrome, rigid, dry, repeated – it was interesting to me how the medium of plaster, the context of the exhibit, the isolation of one part of a woman’s body from the rest of her body (and emotions), and repetition, alters a viewers’ perception. For artistic purposes, the 400 tiles could have been of almost any set of objects that were similar yet unique. Four hundred color photographs of the same size would have better captured the beauty of vulva including their hair, but he wouldn’t have been able to charge the women as much for photographing them. In watching the video interviews on his site, I was reminded of the recent dental casting of a broken tooth I just underwent.

McCartney, who has a background as a theatrical prop maker, does have a business making and selling many varieties of custom body casts. But I think Lawrence’s assertion that he charged the women who posed for this exhibit is not correct.

What women look like


English sculptor and prop maker Jamie McCartney arranged 400 plaster casts of vulvas into a nine-meter polyptych, to be displayed at the Brighton Festival Fringe in May. The project took five years and a quarter ton of plaster. Subjects ranged in age from 18 to 76, and included mothers, daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women, one woman before and after giving birth, and another before and after labiaplasty (a practice McCartney hopes his exhibition will discourage).

For many women their genital appearance is a source of anxiety and I was in a unique position to do something about that. Vulvas and labia are as different as faces and many people, particularly women, don’t seem to know that.

Subjects talk about the project in this video; McCartney in this one.