Judy Chicago
Red Flag
1971
Courtesy of ACA Galleries N.Y., USA

This work has to be associated to the so-called “Abject Art”. The term of “Abject Art” was defined in the 1990s and describes the depiction of subjects, materials and substances1, that had been taboo up to then, including among others, the excretion process. In this artwork Judy Chicago thematises the menstruation. She depicts a woman removing a bloody tampon from her vagina. The tampon marks the center of the picture. The artist again dissolves a taboo by rendering visible invisible processes. The idea stemmed from a conversation with some friends about menstruation where they realised that they never had openly discussed the topic before.2 Neither in history of arts this topic had been picked up before, recensed as vulgar and disgusting.3 Chicago tried to depict the tampon as clear as possible in order to avoid it to be interpreted as penis, since we are conditioned to hastily identify phallic shapes.4 The picture is very important for women, since a natural monthly process is thematised with dignity. Aside from that, the female genitals are depicted true to life contrasting thus the yearslong tradition of representing the vulva as stylized smooth pubic triangle.

Biography: http://www.judychicago.com/about/bio.php

(Translation: K. Seifter)

Rights (Photo / Work):
Photo © Donald Woodman Photographer (www.DonaldWoodman.com)

© Judy Chicago, 2013 and licensed for use by Bildrecht, Wien, 2013

1 http://www.kettererkunst.de/lexikon/abject-art.shtml March 9th 2014
2 Cf. https://behindthecurtainfeminism.wordpress.com/tag/judy-chicago/  March 9th 2014
3 Cf. https://behindthecurtainfeminism.wordpress.com/tag/judy-chicago/ March 9th 2014
4 Cf. https://behindthecurtainfeminism.wordpress.com/tag/judy-chicago/ March 9th 2014