“Gay Men Draw Vaginas” is exactly the project it sounds like. Three years ago, Keith Wilson and Shannon O’Malley were eating at a restaurant with a group of homosexuals when the topic of vaginas came up. This led to O’Malley asking Wilson to draw a vagina on the table with a crayon. This inspired more conversation and more drawings from the gay men at the table. A few months later, the duo decided to explore this idea even further, setting up a “vagina collection booth” at gay establishments across San Francisco. While they were given a few sneers here and there, most of the gay men who participated were excited to dive in and contribute to the project.
O’Malley observes, “In casual conversation, at surface level, I knew asking gay guys to draw vaginas was funny because it zeroed in on what some people might have perceived as ‘opposites.’ What I kept to myself were my navel-gazing meditations on ‘queer identity’ and ideas people (and the culture) hold about women and bodies.”
The duo recognize that the drawings range anywhere from misogynistic to celebratory to puzzling and enigmatic. They hope to eventually get people like Dan Savage, Neil Patrick Harris, Perez Hilton, John Waters, and/or George Takei to participate. “Ultimately, though, we hope people do a lot of things; we hope they’ll laugh, we hope they’ll think about what it means to identify as a ‘gay man,’ we hope they’ll think about ideas our culture has about bodies and body parts. Their responses are part of the study, part of the art,” they explain.
If you read about “The Great Wall of Vagina,” you know that walls made of modeled human genitals are nothing new, but student artist Peiqi Su’s 3D printed “Penis Wall” raises the bar. This interactive installation is composed of 81 interactive phalluses, which go erect and flaccid according to the viewer’s presence and gestures, each of which is registered with ultrasonic sensors. These little guys can be linked to stock market and translate data visually, or they can be programmed to play along with “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.
Inspired by the widespread notion that “everyone on Wall Street is a dick,” Su satirizes the male sexual organ. But she also treats it with the utmost reverence, referring to it as “one of the oldest and probably the most attractive thing that humans can interact with.” The wall is a very literal manifestation of male desire; the viewer is in total command of the erections, which rise like small columns of vertebrae, giving new meaning to the term “boner.” (via Animal New York, Lost at E Minor, and Huffington Post)
Dancing along to Tchaikovsky’s recognizable composition, the phalluses look delicate and agile as a prima ballerina; instead of the deliberate, immaculate movements of the female form, we see a surprising representation of male sexual impulse. These penises seem not like organs governed by erotic urges but rather like whole creatures with minds of their own, capable of executing the most complex choreography. Like ocean tides, their careful movements speak to a strange and unexpected unity and harmony between the self and the community. Here, the genitals aren’t base and vulgar but intelligent and thoughtful. What do you think?
Jamie McCartney is a multi-disciplinary artist who specializes in sculpture. For “The Great Wall of Vagina,” McCartney casted the vaginas of 400 women, ranging in age from 18-76 years. Casts of mothers, daughters, twins, trans men and women, pre- and post-natal women, and a woman’s pre- and post-labiaplasty are all featured in this large piece. “In creating this work, I set out to alleviate the needless anxiety that is driving so many women to contemplate cosmetic genital surgery.” “The Great Wall of Vagina” book is for sale and features testimonies of over 100 women who took part in the piece. The piece even has an entire site dedicated to it, featuring images and videos and other information about the project.
For “The Spice of Life,” McCartney casted the genitals of flaccid and erect penises, vulvas with closed and open legs,and breasts of a variety of people. “4×4” depicts a panel of 16 erect penises. McCartney claims that many people have engaged with his work in positive ways, noting the variety and lack of “normality” across the spectrum of featured genitals. People often use pornography to gauge normalcy of their genitals, even though these representations are skewed or exaggerated.
McCartney’s pieces, “Old Glory” and “O Limp Pricks,” feature casts of the tip of the artist’s penis. For “Internal Affairs,” McCartney casted the inside of vaginas, transforming the vagina into an external, almost phallic organ.
In all of these pieces, McCartney seeks to satisfy our curiosity and asks us to engage with the relationship we have with our own bodies.