GEBURT_to animate

Concept, Curation: © Doris Jauk-Hinz

The opening exhibition VAGINA 2.0 mainly focused on cultural terms and subjective meanings of female genitals. The contributions exhibited in the virtual gallery of VAGINAMUSEUM.at range from early depictions of vulva symbols in different cultures and times to life and work in social medial online platforms and sex-positive feminism in cyberspace.


The virtual exhibition GEBURT_to animate is an exploration of the "inner" functional female body as a point of reception and a place where new life is born, a cultural place of origin. The focus is on biologically-based gender constructions and their impacts on a social level, conditions of conception as well as natural births and c-sections. The biological origination process of the human body also serves as a metaphor for artistic development processes and the diversity of their results.

The corresponding formal means of expression for this exhibition is the image in motion: animation – the motion as "ensoulment" of the image. The sequence of single images creates something new. The chronological structure of audio-visual sequences offers a glimpse into content coherences and thus expands the message of a single image/sound which is detached from context. This layout corresponds to the linear origination process of life. The title GEBURT_to animate indicates a mutual meaning, since both terms signify to give birth.

Humanity has always been concerned with basic questions concerning the origin of life and mortality in the form of different cultures and religions. Where does the human being come from and where does it go? One way of answering existential and also unsettling questions about being are mythic explanations of creation and the hope for eternal life. When does the embryo/fetus become human? Is there something called ensoulment? And if so, when does it happen? [1] Androcentric approaches suggest that the male sex is animated at an earlier stage than the female and thus assume that man is the norm and woman the deviation.

The functional body / Technological and social developments
Over a long period, theories about biological gender concepts and associated conditions of conception have led to discussions. For example, androcentric ideas were reflected in the "One-sex model" [2] [ONE-SEX-MODEL]. This model denied biological differences, however, on a social level a radical differentiation of sexes took place.
In contrast to this model there are restorative binary as well as complex, open and queer concepts, like for example the solution of gender norms by means of the distinction between gender and sex, as well as postmodern discourse on social gender construction (Doing Gender). [3]

So far the embryo/fetus has been a matter of nature even though it was culturally influenced by birth control. In vitro fertilization [IN VITRO FERTILIZATION], human databases, social freezing [EGG FREEZING] and surrogacy increasingly influence the natural development process of new life. Natural processes are more and more replaced by medical-technical procedures as well as female and male body functions are partially relocated outside the body.

According to technical development, the formation process of life can soon be completely relocated outside the body, for example, the development of future artificial wombs is nearing completion. "The process is called ectogenesis and stands for developing a fetus outside the human body in an artificial womb. The conception happens without sex or parents". [4]
"Sexual reproduction faces a radical revolution. The latest technology will soon enable humans to create children from the gene pool of two men or women". [5] In order to prevent genetic defects, the embryo/fetus can be created from the gene pool of several people. Hybrid creatures, which unite human intelligence and the physical skills of animals, might be created following mythical creatures.

By using reproductive medicine, ethic debates on principles go along with legal key questions; provisions of the law are adopted and/or adapted. Medical achievements, such as the birth control pill or in vitro fertilization, increasingly allow a wider individual scope of life planning and creation of different body concepts, also for same-sex couples.

The high and ever increasing rate of c-sections, which are performed without medical indication and in favour of a pretended safety for mother and child, proofs that the decision for a c-section has become part of a lifestyle debate and an everyday culture. The British bioethicist Anna Smajdor has the following vision for the future: „Pregnancy is a condition that causes pain and suffering, and that affects only women. The fact that men do not have to go through pregnancy to have agenetically related child, where as women do, is a natural inequality. I suggest that there is a strong case for prioritizing research into ectogenesis as an alternative to pregnancy." [6]

However, let us return from possible "future" scenarios to the present: The course of parturition affects mother and child as well as their social surrounding, no matter if it happens through surgical, possibly traumatic and other-directed intervention or naturally through the birth canal. According to classic psychoanalysis, natural birth confronts the newborn Self with a challenge called life.

Art is a form of coping with life. In parallel to human birth techniques, artistic processes of creation equal a cultural parturition within a cultural dynamic. Art addresses natural and artificial processes that create life as well as desires for the composition of "creation". The latter can range from the "self-design" of life to the metaphoric notion how to convey it to artistic/cultural life.

While human birth is accompanied by blood, the creation of art is an "animation" of thoughts.

GEBURT_to animate – Virtual exhibition >>