Strip SG and TWO L(I)PS came together in September to bring Voyage to the Vulva-verse to life, a 12-day art exhibition featuring eight talented artists to showcase their refreshing and innovative interpretations of our vulvas. 

Last year, Libresse Malaysia came under fire for the floral vulva-inspired art on their product packaging. While some Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia consider vulva awareness and appreciation taboo, their neighbour has gone down a different route — appreciating women’s sexuality through vulva art.

View Voyage to the Vulva-verse via their virtual art gallery

Vulva art – new or old?

Many people today might argue that vulva art is “obscene” or “inappropriate”, however representations of the vulva in artistic forms have existed since tens of millennia ago.

Rock art by indigenous Australians that depict two women dancing and menstruating.
Image: Pilbara_two By Altg20April2nd – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https___commons.wikimedia.org_w_index.php_curid=26994274

 

There are many interpretations of the vulva — from a symbol of divine femininity to an object of corrupt sin. Regardless of your definition, there is no doubt that it the vulva is a part of our bodies that deserves love and appreciation.

Serious Women got in touch with Hee Suhui and Amanda Tan, two talented artists featured at Voyage to the Vulva-verse, to discover their perception of vulva acceptance and what their art represents.

 

What does your artwork mean?

Going into detail about her artwork, Hee Suhui tells us that objects from her mother’s vanity and displays inspired her to create Other Faces. The artwork combines vessels of beauty/femininity/pride with the vulva — reframing the vulva as beautiful and something to be celebrated. 

Hee Suhui, artist of Other Faces

 

When you look at Other Faces, you might ask yourself, what is the significance of vulva flowers surrounding the mirror? According to Suhui, by “reclaiming the metaphor of the handheld mirror as agency instead of vanity”, the artwork protests the erasure of female genitalia. It highlights the consequence of forming identity without sexuality, seeking to place the rediscovery of our vulvas as the second phase from which we understand the world.

“I’m invested in breaking the taboos of my mother’s generation – and creating a culture where talking about the vulva and sexuality is normalised. By taking away the visual euphemisms, you are confronted with what you are trying to hide.”

Amanda Tan’s Drip is also more than just a psychedelic-esque collage of fruits and flowers oozing in glittery fluids. “For this particular piece, I wanted something visually provocative, a little taboo, and a lot of fun. The image of the phallic flowers dripping, shimmering, sparkling and glitter speak for itself.”

 

Amanda Tan, artist of Drip

 

Amanda sees her vulva as a physical portal to her inner self, a profound meaning adequately captured in her artwork, together with help from her friend, Singapore’s Glitter Queen, Polina

“I wanted to portray female pleasure and all things feminine and natural. You can say it’s normalising the ins and outs of the female body as well as the vulva. But for me, it’s more about being unabashedly forward about it.”

 

Putting a spotlight on a subject that society is too shy to talk about

“The language around female sexuality needs to change,” said Suhui. “A mother should be able to speak to her child positively about genitalia. Peers should be able to share their experiences. A partner should listen and learn. Gear intimate health and sex education towards inclusivity. We should allow for celebratory conversations around the vulva to happen.”

Suhui believes we should continue speaking about female sexuality unabashedly, as in her words, “shying away from difficult subjects makes it harder to progress.”

Amanda decided to tackle this taboo topic by taking a different approach. Referring to her artwork, “This piece was a fun one. I liked the idea of making fun, cheeky art on a topic that people are generally apprehensive about. It’s the best way to get someone to laugh, smile, and more comfortable with the topic, don’t you think?”

 

via GIPHY

 

Empowering women through their sexuality

Many people may think that female sexuality and female empowerment are mutually exclusive. However, Suhui and Amanda believe that they are a part of one another.

“One of the bastions of female empowerment is for women to have agency,” Suhui mentions. “Other Faces is a celebration of women of all backgrounds and their relationship with and agency over their own bodies. The work tries to rewrite the current narrative around female genitalia to portray it positively. The work was made specifically for the female gaze.”

To the naked eye, Amanda’s Drip may just seem like a piece “showcasing a phallic floral pussy dripping with neon liquids”. With alluring audio and visuals, Amanda aims to “empower women to embrace their sexuality and feminine prowess” with her artwork.

 

Vulva acceptance

At Serious Women, we always get excited whenever we see strides taken in normalising female sexuality. This is a subject that was stripped from its spiritual and historical significance, denigrated into shame and taboo. Other Southeast Asian countries have yet to follow in Singapore’s footsteps, but meanwhile, we’re glad to see more conversations starting. Viva la Vulva!

Don’t forget to check out Suhui, Amanda, and all the other talented artists’ work at the Voyage to the Vulva-verse virtual gallery.

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Hee Suhui is a Singapore-based artist and musician. Enamoured by the boundaries or lack thereof between the grotesque and the beautiful, Suhui studies flesh, organic textures and the body uncanny. Her research centres on embodiment/disembodiment and the body as an organism. You can follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/an.atomie/ 

 

Amanda Tan (Empyreal) is a filmmaker, director, visual designer, writer, and artist. Her music videos and short films have been screened and nominated for awards at various film festivals, including the Berlin Short Film Festival, NYC Indie Film Awards, Salento International Film Festival and Singapore Short Film Awards. As an artist, she strives to make work that speaks to the state of human emotion through experimental video. You can follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/empyrealsg