The work included in Vanessa Forstén’s new solo exhibition, Menorrhoea consists of still life and portraiture photography as well as a performance video. Forstén uses different mediums to explore her own body during menstruation. Menstrual blood is depicted as a normal bodily fluid and the state of menstruation as a painful phase for the person who is bleeding. The work also presents alternative medicine and environmentally conscious menstrual pads.
The title, Menorrhoea comes from Latin and translates to, “the flow of blood at menstruation”. Menstrual blood shed is uniquely non-violent, however it is often highly controversial blood. 45 years since Judy Chicago’s seminal piece, Menstruation Bathroom (1972), at Womanhouse exhibition in California, menstrual blood is still a social taboo in our culture. Patriarchal societies still struggle to accept as normal the bleeding of a woman’s monthly cycle – their bodies are deemed as dirty, their actions become unpredictable, and their capability of making decisions are viewed as clouded due to the emotional imbalance they endure during menstruation.
Forstén’s works portrays a progressive image of menstruation. The use of the soft light underlines the natural vulnerability of menstruation. In the work White Privilege, Forstén presents herself in a position of privilege by wearing an all white outfit with a collar made out of unused tampons. She is questioning this position; being able to buy tampons at your local convenience store and freely using them as you please is not the norm for most of the bodies who bleed in the world. In the video performance, Warpaint, Forstén uses her own menstrual blood to highlight contour her face, striking a resemblance to makeup tutorial videos found online. Like the reference, her performance becomes a ritual with each stroke she applies the blood into her face. Unashamed, she stands covered in her own blood – not a victim, but a person who bleeds every month.
Vanessa Forstén(b. 1990) is a Helsinki based artist whose work focuses on the identity of the female and the feminine. Forstén’s first solo exhibition, Always invisible, never out of sight was held in May 2016 at Creat Space in Helsinki. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions in Europe, Japan and the USA. In February 2017 she was named, The Young Artist of the Month at Gumbostrand Konst & Form in Sipoo. Currently her series Revir is being exhibited in Estonia as a part of the group exhibition, Identity Matters at the Soome Institute in Tallinn.