NEEDLING CLITORIDES HISTORIES

First presented at Performance Studies International 19, Stanford USA 27 – 30th June  2013

Rose Garden, Ternate Park, Stanford

In the Waiting Room: Needling Clitorides Histories is a live art work for 2 or more people at a time.

Presented as part of a triptych along with Evolution: A Walk [With Herbivores] and Fieldwork:Empathic Limb Clinic.

All these works are flexible, site responsive, suitcase ready and available to tour.

Visitors in a waiting area embroider two botanic panels. One is the Clitoria Ternatea flower and one is the human Clitoridis.

Participants are invited to needle the fabric of society with the threads of two stories and consider parallel histories, debated nomenclature and extraordinary censorship for these two organs, at the hands of western science from 18th-20th Century. They are offered the brightly coloured blue tea of the Clitoria Ternatea flower (used in some cultures as an aphrodisiac). From time to time Ms Jones stops by the waiting area to reveal further points and protagonists in the story or answer questions that may have been raised in the participants conversation. Together the embroiderers create a botanic dialogue that joins the past with the present.

Audiences swing from self-conscious titillation combined with the unexpected intimacy with a stranger to a sudden feeling of political responsibility.

The action raises revelatory, political and internal conversations to question the authority of science, the extent of censorship on social thinking and raises awareness of anatomic knowledge, genital mutilation practices and how little research  has been done for the clitoris.

The story of Clitoridis, the full image and details of which was only restored to anatomic textbooks in the 1990′s, has had a profound and emotional effect on some female participants.

Participants (both men and women) have been observed to grow attached to the works they contribute to, asking to continue their embroidery after other appointments and returning on subsequent days to add further stitches.

Conceived and presented by Cat Jones.

Research for this project has been supported through Australia Council for the Arts through a Creative Australia Fellowship 2012, and residencies at fo.am, Belgium and Bundanon Trust NSW. Special thanks to the generosity of The Wellcome Trust Library for access to rare materials, the artists involved in Transcontinental Garden Exchange for feedback, prototype testing and stitching and to Cate Hull.