Katrina is the creator of Boxing Katrina, a series of erotic bodycasts featuring detailed representations of her own genitals. I was curious about her experiences making and selling such objects, so I asked her about it.
What were your reactions the first time you looked at a cast of your vulva up close?
Well, my first reaction was, “Oh my god, that is so bizarre and strange!” It is odd seeing a piece of your body segmented like that having an exact replica of your vulva, in three dimension, does allow you to look at yourself in a whole new way. Instead of looking in a mirror or just looking down at my body, I can actually pick up the sculpture and get a new view of what I actually look like. I don't think I see details that I was not aware of it is more like I have a better WHOLE picture.
Do you remember the first time you looked at your own vulva? Were you always convinced it was beautiful and sexy?
I grew up like a lot of girls thinking that I was not supposed to look “down there” or think about “things down there!” So for years I didn't. It's like you were supposed to just overlook or pretend that you did not have something called a vagina. I had no idea that I was so fantasticly gorgeous “down there!” Ha ha.
You must have to do some fussing with your vulva to prepare and produce the casts. Has the process of making life-casts taught you anything about your body how it feels, where it tends to itch, favorite poses and labial arrangements, that kind of thing?
Basically, it just takes a clean shave to prepare myself. Other than that, once the process gets going I am pretty much all business. It takes a long time and usually several tries to produce a good casting. I am very picky about how I want the end result to look.
A photographer has to take dozens of shots to get that one good one. It is the same with lifecasting only that “one shot” takes several hours! There have been times when you get perfect results on the first try.
What is your casting process like? What materials do you use for the final pieces?
The castings are made of a substance called "hydo-cal" which is mixed with water and dries to a stone-like hardness.
Oh, my, the process it is quite involved! Perhaps, I could write an article on that for your next edition?
Do you produce only hairless pieces for practical reasons, or is it an aesthetic or artistic decision? What are your feelings about pubic hair in real life?
In my everyday life, I prefer to stay completely shaved. It is nice to be smooth and clean all the time, plus I find a hairless vagina to be very sexy. I am in the process of building the courage to get a Brazilian bikini wax! Casting hair would be pretty messy anyway.
What are your motivations for offering reproductions of your nude vulva for display in strangers' houses? I know you have artistic motives. Do you also enjoy exhibitionism? Or, how do you deal with being exhibited if you don't usually like it?
I would not say that I am an exhibitionist at all. I actually never planned to do this! It happened by chance frankly, my boyfriend and I were just playing around. But the results were so fantastic and I have never seen anyone else doing this the way I am. So I thought, “Let me carry this forward and see what I can do and where I can take this!”
As far as having it displaying in a strangers house goes, it does not bother me at all. People need to not be so afraid of a vulva! I think it is awesome that people are wanting to purchase my work and display it their homes. I dont think of it so much as “my vagina” I am female and every female has the same thing the sculptures are not personal to me in any intimate way. Just like my hands are individual to me, but we all have hands.
I could have used a model, but I already have everything I needed with myself. I did not see the point in casting someone elses body. I thought if I was going to create an image that will no doubt seem controversial that it would be better to only involve myself.
Do you have any political motives for this project?
Political motives? Not in the beginning, but some are starting to form as a result of the process. I think peoples attitudes about female genitalia are all over the board. From reverence to ignorance to shame to embarrassment to pride you name an emotion and I promise you there is someone out there who shares it with their vagina.
I have been visiting alot of websites created by women about vaginas. The message boards are the most telling. I saw one post where the girl was asking “Where do I find my clitoris?” I almost fell out of my seat!
So if I had any politicial type motives it would be to try to help women (and men) be more comfortable with their body. The vagina is, physiologically, the most important part of being a woman. I wish that all women and girls could get that.
In your artist's statement on your website, you talk about erotic art as a fetishization of the body, and about isolating individual body parts in what sounds like a type of objectification. Do you think your sculptures can be objectified in a positive way? What kind of context do you try to set up for your sculptures? What value do you think there is in focussing on just a vulva in detail?
Through working on this series, I find it empowering to segment the body and really have a look at what certain parts of the body might mean or symbolize.
The media throws female body parts at us all the time. Most of the time, it is done in an overtly sexual manner from a (sexist) man's perspective. Those types of images make women feel uncomfortable and make men seem predatory. That is not good for either of the sexes it perpetuates inequality. I might even go so far as to say that the constant barrage of those type images is probably even hurting the progression of this country.
What I am saying is, “Here, have a look at this in a completely honest and, yes, objective way and form your opinion.” My hope is that some people might shrug off the views imposed on them through the media and truly be more honest with themselves and reality! :)
Do you find that more women or men are interested in buying your sculptures? Were you at all surprised about your customer demographics?
Right now, I would say that 80% of my collectors are men. But I think that is slowly changing as more and more women see my work.
Your customers constantly remark about the high quality craftsmanship in your pieces. Do you do all the framing and reproductions yourself? Do you enjoy making perfect corners and finished objects, or are you just maintaining a level of professionalism because you feel you need to?
Absolutely everything is done in my studio. I have assistance making the boxes and doing the actual castings. Otherwise, I pour every piece in a given edition. There are lots of castings that don't “make the grade” and just get thrown in the trash! (My trash collectors! What do they think!?) If someone buys from me, I want them to have the best that I can produce. I think I achieve that. More than 50% of my collectors come back to purchase another sculpture. I am pretty proud of that.
You are obviously interested in erotic art. Do you make projects for your personal enjoyment as well? What kinds of stuff do you like to make besides body casts?
I enjoy painting though they are hardly erotic! I have a collection of strange and interesting toys from the 1950s that are my current subject matter.
Do you prefer to admire your vulva unadorned, or do you like the idea of drawing attention to it with decorations such as jewellery, paint, piercings, and tattooes?
I would love the get the hood of my clitoris pieced one of these days. I think that is a very pretty look. It is fun to be feminine and girly! Jewellery for my vagina! I am all over that!
What is some of your other favorite erotic art featuring female genitals?
Well, there is not much of it out there, is there! There is always the Venus of Willendorf who is portrayed as fertile and plump, complete with vulva. Obviously, that was before men began to dominate society and before MTV.
I do like Egon Schiele's work. He seemed to see the vulva as a brilliant red, which I like. But his work can be disturbing and I believe his models were all prostitutes.
I like the classical depictions of women in painting and sculpture. I can kinda see “bombetta” as something of a classical interpretation if I may be permitted to make that stretch.
At the end of the day, the viewer will always approach art by way of their own personal experiences. And he or she will make judgements based on that experience. The viewer will decide what the work means to them.
I hope to reach more female audiences in the near future. It would be great if women would start using the symbol of their vulva as an empowerment. It is almost as if that part of our body was taken away from us (via religions, societies, and politics). Imagine if woman would all reclaim themselves