The Origin of the World
By Marina Mariasch[i]
Well before Courbet, Leonardo suggested in his ‘Treatise on Painting’ that
women should always be depicted ‘in modest poses,
their legs close together, their arms closely folded, their heads inclined
and somewhat on one side’
apart. But these are not women, but vaginas. One is not a woman because one
has a vagina. Here women are reduced to their sex organ but
have the strength of its symbolic value. There is a double displacement
here; the artist cedes his charcoal to other –male- artists- for this
‘Sexionary’, a saucier version of ‘Pictionary’- a game of drawing words.
In the beginning was the word.
For this is what it is about, playing with words, which are ideas. Thought
is structured through language.
This, the vagina emerges in the foreground of these representations. Beyond,
before the beginning, there was something, a chain of reactions,
relationships of power:
A man giving instructions to a woman, asking her to open her legs. A man
ceding his pencil to another man, an invitation to take charge. Each person
has their part, and no one loses their power. Not the vagina itself which
takes centre stage, as if on the front of those men’s magazines, which today
are covered with arse. The vagina is under the gaze, submissive, but is, for
once –finally- the focus of all.
Here the centre is not the erect dick of porn, but the vagina in its
productive and reproductive function. A vagina in which the economy of
desire is divested of the economy of the market, moving forward on parallel
paths. Although submissive, from this central position it seems to say ‘I do
what I like’. And it becomes a threat. The central and
sovereign vagina needs to be lightly subjugated to accentuate the
dispositve, and to configure desire. But it remains a threat.
It is the origin of the world or the end of the universe, a black octopussy in
which to get lost in a dark, endless tunnel. First wave feminism wanted to
remove women’s bodies from the patriarchal gaze, but this would not be the
first time that a naked body has served as touchpaper for a revolution. This
series of vaginas reflects a system of repeated patterns moulded by social
myths. In this work, and these diverse ways of representing a vagina, the multiple
personalities possessed by each vagina are opened up.
We need to look at them and get to know them, chuck out the flowers and
wrest the beetroot from within. Get us out from under, wonder woman, wonder
man. The vagina shifts from being a bite in a lump of meat into
an idea, an allegorical triangle that resembles God, a black hole from which
no material particle, not even light, may escape.
[i] Syd Krochmalny, The Origin of the World at The School of Arts and Humanities, University of Stirling, Scotland. Translated by Sarah Wilson. Marina Mariasch was born Buenos Aires in 1973. She studied literature at Universidad de Buenos Aires and Cultural Sociology at UNSAM. She has published coming attractions (Siesta, 1997), XXX (Siesta, 2001), Tigre y león (Siesta, 2005), té verde (Vox, 2007), El zig zag de las instituciones (Vox, 2009) and El matrimonio (Bajo la luna, 2011). She co-founded and directed the publishing house Siesta with Santiago Llach.