Anish Kapoor has made another whacking great sculpture for the Versailles gardens, called Dirty Corner. And it’s meant to be Marie Antoinette’s vagina. I know the queen had her faults, but it’s a very odd vagina – a vast, brutish, metal, grubby-looking, gaping funnel into a black hole. I must say I’m a bit fed up with this sort of idea of a vagina. I thought we’d done all that to death more than half a century ago, when Lady Chatterley’s Lover had just come out in paperback; everything long and pointy was a penis and every orifice was a vagina.
It was very exciting at the end of the 1950s, when you could suddenly say words out loud that you’d hardly dared mention before, even to the doctor. But by 1960 at art school we already thought it was old hat and a bit of a joke. To one of our teachers, everything was a phallic symbol. If we walked into Mr Hirst’s class carrying a long roll of paper, we were done for. We called one chum the Walking Penis, because he was thin with very short hair and a bullet-head, and he was painting vaginas like mad. Huge, blazing, startling red and purply ones, which he kept in the shed in his garden.
What if his mum had seen them? So risky! She could easily have fainted or cast him out. But now nobody’s mother would bat an eyelid. We’ve progressed. We have sex education. I thought it was fairly mainstream to be inspired by vaginas.
We’ve had vagina dinner plates, vagina flowers, vagina canoes and even an “origin of the world” vagina. Now here comes a fellow who still thinks vaginas are big “dirty”, dark, wide open holes. He is not alone. A male critic rates his sculptures for “sensual deliciousness”.
Olga, an artist and female critic, thinks this one is more like the entrance to a storage unit. She is right. Oh dear. Is this how some men still see women? As dirty storage units? And I thought feminism had got somewhere. We still have a million miles to go.
Source: The Guardian.