Vaginarts has been offering digitally enhanced photos of vulvas for five years or so. These are no airbrushed porn shots; these digital enhancements are colourful, decorative, and often fantastical, presenting vulvas as day-glo flowers, multiplied into colourful patterns, or trailing spacey swirls of fog. These are intergalactic, celebratory vulvas.
The last new art posted to Vaginarts was in 2003. When I saw the site was promising a grand re-opening I contacted Sudharm, the artist behind the site, to talk about his planned changes and the future of the project.
How did Vaginarts get started, and how has it changed since the beginning?
Before the Vaginarts site was created, it was suggested to me that the web was an excellent medium to use to show some of the art I created, especially the digital stuff. This evolved into Vaginarts. A year later I felt that displaying just pictures alone wasn’t enough, so I expanded to include texts (so far only in Swedish). These texts were about issues relating to women, their sex and sexuality and also issues that interested me. This was a trigger for me to learn more. Unfortunately I’m not a very good website maker — so the website could, from a technical point of view — be a lot better.
What have you got planned for the new site? Why are you changing it?
Nothing has happened to Vaginarts since the beginning of 2003, but a lot of things have happened to me. I met the love of my life and it felt natural that together we [would remake] Vaginarts, turning it into our project — this time with a lot more texts, and texts in both Swedish and English. And not to forget, now it’s not only my male point of view — there is also a female influence, especially in the texts since “the word” is her specialty.
Our idea is to teach others that a yoni, a cunt, a pussy, a vulva or whatever you want to call it, is something that is very natural and something that should be honored, loved and respected.
How did you get interested in making yoni images in the first place?
As long as I can remember I have always been drawing then later on doing painting, sculpting, photography and in the last 7–8 years, digital graphics. When the opposite sex became interesting in my early teens it was natural for me to let women’s nude bodies inspire me.
There is nothing that I can point out as the reason why I became interested in the “yoni.” It felt natural to me to show the affection, respect and love I felt for women through the medium of my art. I could show women’s sex in a respectful way that also showed joy, beauty, something sensual. I also felt very privileged when a woman would allow me in between their legs to see their most intimate parts, while taking the photos that are the base for my artwork.
One reason for making this choice is also that it appeals to the rebel in me. Our western culture and other societies say you are not supposed to do what I do, “You are not supposed to think that a cunt is beautiful and absolutely never reveal that you truly believe this.” I love women who are proud of being women, women who are sexual beings and women who are proud of what is hidden between their legs. I wanted to support that.
As I became older and learned more about sex, relationships, women, religion, philosophy, and history I discovered that societies based on Christian, Islamic and Jewish ideals had one thing in common; the suppression of women (more or less obvious) in general, and their sexuality in particular. For example, where in the Bible does the woman’s sex — her yoni, vagina, pussy or cunt — get praised for its role in making others happy or in the birth of a child?
So there is a political idea behind Vaginarts — it’s my statement regarding women’s sex and sexuality, and a small contribution to the liberation of women. Why is it ok to show the graphic imagery of people getting killed on TV, but a women’s sex is non-existing and her menstrual blood is turned in to something blue in the commercials? Something is wrong — very wrong! Vaginarts might help more people to become aware.
So you make all the graphics yourself?
I do all the graphics myself. I want the woman who models to know what will happen to the photos I take — that they will be the base for my artwork. I have to be involved from the very beginning, not just grabbing any picture from the internet.
Your images often look both technological and organic, with obvious computer manipulations and technicolors combined with floral or fleshy shapes. What relationship do you see between technology and vulva art? Between technology and vulvas themselves?
I don’t see any relationship — none at all.
Technology has no importance in itself — it is just a means to get something done. In my case the computer and network technology has given me the opportunity to create and show Vaginarts and hopefully it is a small contribution in the process to change the view on women’s sex.I could have done it in other ways, but it would have taken a longer time and more resources to be available to reach a broader audience worldwide.
Vulvas, on the other hand, are crucial from many points of view. For joy, but even more for mankind’s survival, for life itself…
What other art inspires your work?
I like art that tells me something, art that sticks out from the ordinary. I like art that dares to deal with important issues for man, like sexuality, death, truth, crossing boundaries, survival, taking risks... I like art where the artist is true to her/his own truth and dares to show it — like me saying and showing: I respect women and I love cunts! From that statement I can get in to discussions regarding sex, politics, religion, philosophy…
What other projects are you involved in right now?
At the moment — and for the rest of my life — my most important project is the relationship with my wife. And that is a very interesting project. Besides that, I’m starting a new phase in my life. I have moved to a new city and am also changing a lot of other things in my life.
When it comes to more artistic projects I have a dream that in a year or two I can do something — based on Vaginarts — involving a lot of women, with more artists and in real life. Perhaps some kind of installation happening here in Sweden, but also in other places at the same time, using internet technology to communicate.