Zanele Muholi, a digital collage of Mensrual blood

In the art world, menstrual blood tends to be front and center in discussions of menstruation. Perhaps it is our culture’s fascination with making the hidden processes of the world transparent or our need to examine what others choose to ignore. The evolution of art that uses menstruation fluid has not been a smooth road, the media explains the perception quite succinctly. An important publication was from EJ Dickson in her Guernica essay: 
The existence of such a space for openly discussing menses is heartening to menstrala artists like May Ling Su, an adult performer and photographer whose 2010 book, On My Period, was nominated for a Feminist Porn Award. “The Internet has made it so we’re more open about our periods, so the topics that in the past were hush-hush can now be out in the open,” Su says.
When Chicago’s piece was first exhibited, menstrual-themed art was considered subversive, an innovative way of bringing a social taboo to the forefront of cultural conversation. Yet it has since acquired a reputation as a pretentious gimmick, intended solely for shock value.

South African artist Zanele Muholi's "Ummeli" (2011) us a digital print on cotton rag of a digital collage of Menstrual blood stains. (via

. The satirical Wikipedia website Encyclopedia Dramatica, for instance, has an entry on menstrual painting, calling it “the practice where women paint, terrible pictures … and get asspats for being liberated.” Menstrual art’s reputation as an amateurish gimmick was cemented with the 2001 cult film Ghost World, in which a dippy art teacher (Ileana Douglas) praises a dimwitted student’s final piece, a tampon in a teacup. 

“It’s a response to a woman’s right to choose, which is something I feel super-strongly about"
Artist Zanele Muholi’s “Ummeli” (2011) is a digital print on cotton rag of a digital collage of menstrual blood stains.
Activist and photographer Zanele Muholi’s work explores this pattern of “curative rape” and the stories of the victims of gender hate crimes.
Muholi latest body work Isilumo siyaluma, loosly translated from the Zulu to mean “period pains”, considers the desperate plight of in South African women, as they face rampant hate crimes and brutal killings.

On one level, Muholi explains, her work deals with her own menstrual blood and that secretive, feminine time of the month, “that has been reduced within Western patriarchal culture as dirty”. On a deeper level, Muholi sees her menstrual blood as a vehicle and medium for expressing the loss she feels when she hears about these “curative rapes”.

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