Cecilia is a 23-year-old multidisciplinary artist living & working in Brooklyn & studying at Parsons the New School for Design. Contact at [email protected] & view additional work at ceciliawachter.tumblr.com & on Instagram at @velvetvulva.
The work that I have generated in the past stems directly from personal experiences that I have had, although generally speaking, my work does not feature me and does not directly reference me. It is removed from my life and from its trigger and expanded to encompass the commonalities of human life. The experiences from which I draw inspiration tend to fall into the heavier aspects of my everyday reality; in the past, I have created projects based off my struggles with anorexia and body image (Disgusting, 2012), my encounters with street harassment (Smile for Me Baby, 2013), my ongoing battle with substance dependence (Analgesic, 2012 and Lush, 2013), and violence against women (Seed, 2014). These are issues of both social justice and emotional turmoil. They are political in the sense that they confront public affairs and the way that people, particularly women, navigate public spaces and their public lives, but they are political on a personal level. I choose to examine the destructive nature of learned behaviors and the problematic concepts and thought processes that we have been conditioned to accept as facts. My work exists to evoke a visceral, primary reaction, usually one of revulsion or shock, which is intended to stop the viewer and provoke a second, closer look. The secondary reaction that I strive for is one of examination and consideration, for the viewer to take the subject matter, chew it over, and apply it to their own life.
Lips is a reaction to a culture in which female sexuality and sex organs are depicted as dirty, shameful, and wrong. The slang words for female genitalia are crude and degrading; ‘meat wallet,’ ‘fish taco,’ ‘beef curtains,’ and ‘axe wound’ are all terms that aren’t uncommon colloquially as well as in pop culture and mass media. Slang words for ‘penis,’ however, carry themes of strength and domination (e.g., ‘man muscle,’ ‘anaconda,’ ‘pocket rocket’). Whilst researching and producing this series, I often thought of an article I once read that printed the word ‘penis,’ but ‘vagina’ was written as a series of asterisks. Why are the genitals of one person vilified while comparable organs on another person are not only socially acceptable, but symbols of power? From childhood, people with vaginas are told that their vulvas are embarrassing, abnormal, disgusting, and smelly. As airbrushed images of the idealized naked human body are increasingly more accessible to young people, our perception of what is normal has become flawed and distorted; perhaps as a result, in the past five years, the numbers of people seeking to alter the external appearance of their genitals has increased more than fivefold (Hogenboom 2012). Lips is an attempt to appreciate, embrace, and encourage the divine, unparalleled beauty of female genitals…. I sought to capture the intimate intricacies of each of my model’s unique forms, emphasizing their singularity and beauty.
I believe that this series will be confronting and triggering to my audience, particularly those with vaginas, and I hope that some of them may have the same realization that I did while viewing my negatives: that we are more beautiful than we can imagine. Viewers may be drawn into a reality that I have imagined, where genitalia can be body parts, not political statements, and where what we are capable of is not informed by our gender.