L’origine du Monde / Origin of the World
‘L’origine du monde’ is the title of a painting by Courbet which I love. Painted in 1866 it is a ground-breaking work even by today’s standards. It boldly displays a woman’s vagina as its main focus. The fact that he called this work ‘Origin of the World’ places it beyond the personal erotic and into the cosmic. It pays respect to women’s generative power as we are confronted with the gateway though which we all entered this world.
In this piece, delving into the taboo territory of menstruation, extreme close-ups of my bleeding vagina are the dominant motif. They are framed as planet-like orbs. The placement of my bloody planets corresponds to the arrangement of stars in a galaxy called M3 or Messier 3. The galaxy is described as a globular cluster of old stars and ironically named after a man who hated the sight of it. Charles Messier (1730 – 1817) chronicled 103 star clusters and nebulae from a hotel in Paris to remind himself to avoid them in his hunt for comets.
The formation of these bleeding pudenda is also reminiscent of atomic electrovalence. Stars are atoms and atoms, stars. Linking microcosm and macrocosm, I pay homage to the fecundity of my menstrual blood, source of nourishment for potential life, time of the month of explosive creativity and sexuality for me, the origin of my world. In the galaxy of my vulvae, boundaries are dissolved; inside meets outside, hidden is revealed and taboo engaged.
Come closer to the work and an audio track whispers words derived from the Latin mens, the basis of the word menstruation. The words express concepts of measurement, mathematics, astronomy and mind. Language has recorded the central role women’s monthly cycles have played in the development of human consciousness and civilization.
More in depth description of accompanying audio
As the viewer moves close to ‘Origin of the world / L’origine du monde’, whispering will be heard. The source being audio inside the creation. What is whispered are words linked to menstruation derived from the Latin mens or mensis, which means month and also moon. The measurement of the month was originally derived from the cycles of the moon (before we changed to sun time) as it was the earliest form of cosmic cyclic measurement longer than a day. The fact that women bleed in harmony with the moon cycles was well known to the ancients. Mens also means mind or spirit. So in the roots of our language women’s monthly bleeding cycles are linked to concepts for measurement, mathematics, astronomy, and the mind.
These are the words whispered over and over:`