ON YOUR FACE     ︎   

Many theorists and academics have explored the interrelation between power and identity. In her book The Psychic Life of Power Theories in Subjection Judith Butler speaks about the idea that we are made of the language, the environment in which we live. Thus, we are subjected to the power for our own formation of the self, as the self is a performative act, triggered by these factors that surround us.

The installation A retrospective of self-hood and identity explores identity through the belief that identity is not intrinsical but created. Exploring the concept of identity formation juxtaposed with the Buddhist teachings of the Dharma, the installation takes us through a visual and textual enumeration of the concepts, ideas that we identify with, but that we are not.

‘By going through a series of I am nots, you might finally find out that you are nothing that can be described by words, nothing that can be conceptualized.’

I am not what I wear, who I sleep with, what I know, how I look,
what I think…


(2020- work in progress)

The perception we have of the vulva has changed over the centuries. It was once thought it had the power to scare the evil.

Statues of people with their legs spread, holding their vulva open were placed on entrances of houses to scare the evil. The yoni was seen as a sign of fertility, as well as a sign of power. A squatting body would exemplify the powers of the vulva, the reproductive system that allows new lives to be created, the force of a body that goes through so many changes to create and hold a new life.

This perception of the vulva fluctuated throughout history, an example of this being the Greek sculptures where the vulva is flattened, shaved and smoothed as if it were a doll.

The uterus as an extension of the vulva was believed to wander around the body and cause hysteria (a mental illness attributed to women).

The vulva no to be honoured again.

Sculptures of vulvas started to reappear during the second wave of (white) feminism.
My addition of the term white is to point out that the second wave of feminism only refers to the white European and American wave rather than worldwide feminism which has existed in all cultures through the centuries.  

Whilst the imagery of the vulva has slowly come back, the imagery of the phallus has been prevalent for centuries. Penis parks exist around the world, sculptures of penises are very common.

Anasyrma is an ongoing work for an immersive installation piece where the vulva is honoured through figures of the vulva goddesses floating around the room.

*Whilst goddess can indicate female, I am referring to beings that are not necessarily gendered but that embody the vulva. Acknowledging that there are people of all genders who have vulvas.

Anasyrma: the act of pulling your skirt up and showing your genitalia.

As we enter the installation, we are in a mystical space where goddesses go through the room unaware of the audience.

2021 by Àfrica Ollé