Casting Off My Womb by Casey Jenkins
In a provocative display that weds body politics and feminism with arts and crafts, Australia-based artist Casey Jenkins knitted a continuous, long scarf-like piece from a skein of wool she had inserted into her vagina.
The performance piece, cleverly called Casting Off My Womb, lasted for twenty eight days, which is the length of an average menstrual cycle. Every day at the beginning of the performance, Jenkins would insert a new skein of yarn into her vagina, spooled so that it would unravel from the center. The artist admits to occasionally becoming sexually aroused during the performance, which Aussie TV refers to as “vaginal knitting.”
Jenkins describes herself as a craftivist and founded Craft Cartel, a craftivism website, which, according to the site, is “for crafty types who don’t dig rose-scented doilies.” Jenkins’ performance is absolutely doily-free. In fact, the white wool is stained rust colored in spots that indicate where she was knitting when she had her period. Stopping knitting during this part of her cycle was never an option. Jenkins intended to see the piece all the way through her cycle, to complete her side of the conversation in this body politics debate.
With Casting Off My Womb, Casey Jenkins hoped to demystify and remove some of the stigma surrounding the vulva. It is just a body part. Says Jenkins, “If you take a good, hard look at a vulva, you realise it’s just a bit of a body. There’s nothing that is shocking or scary… nothing that is gonna run out and eat you up.”
By associating the vulva with a warm and wholesome activity like knitting, perhaps the conversation about female anatomy can change. As written on Beautiful Decay, “[S]he enjoys that her performance associates the vulva – something that can be found offensive or vulgar or invoke a level of fear – with the comfort and warmth that knitting provides and evokes.”