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    Nico

    (I can't see the 'about' picture)

    That sculpture is so striking. The long trail of red beads makes me think of how long it takes to get over all the heartache - how long it takes to heal.

    Nico

    oh, of course, now the about pic is there. So nevermind that part of my previous comment.

    wessel

    I don't see the dichotomies in terms of "splits" that need healing, but rather as separate sides of the same entity which balance each other or exist synergistically. Particularly with the male/female example, I couldn't understand what a healing would even look like -- androgeny?

    I'm woefully ignorant of and underexposed to art, Pixi. Maybe you will teach me something! :-)

    wessel

    With regard to the picture -- it is very interesting, but also very disturbing. Regardless of what the artist may have intended, I didn't really see the blood as either menses or miscarriage, but was struck immediately by the sense that this woman was losing her life force -- bleeding out, bleeding to death.

    pixi

    Hmm, wessel, you bring up an interesting point regarding Kiki's examples of dichotomies that need healing. Perhaps she sees these things as currently not functioning in the ideal way that you've described, and the healing would mean a type of harmony/synergy rather than an amalgam of the two entities? That's my guess, anyway.

    It was really the first part of the quote that I responded to the most. It's simple and direct, but it's an accurate characterization of my state of being right now.

    And, any reactions, questions, challenges, musings, etc. are completely valid and welcome here. I'd bet the artist would be very interested to hear how this particular group has responded to her work.

    Katie/WannaBeMom

    The picture was the first thing I saw when clicking here today. Before I saw the full sculpture, just the smaller version, my first reaction was "wow" and when I saw the full version, my gut dropped. I almost didn't want to look, but was compelled to look at the same time. Even when I click on your link to full sculpture now, after I've seen it and know what to expect, I still feel that discomfort. I can understand the work in the context of the quote, and it makes sense to me in that way. But on my challenging side, I think about how disturbing I find the image of menstruation in this work of art, and I chaff against that. Nonetheless, there is a beauty in the work too, and perhaps I need to think around my own discomfort with the image. Maybe the image itself isn't disturbing unless we've been branded with society's take on menstruation, which I'd like to think I'm over, but perhaps I'm not. Do I ramble? I'll stop now. But I might ramble more later.

    Jill

    For me, the picture expresses how I feel about my miscarriages. The woman's back is turned and her face is hidden, perhaps in shame. She is bent, as if with pain. She is solitary. And it struck me the same as it struck Wessel: that this woman is losing her life force. Her own life force is draining away with the loss of her baby, trailing away behind her, and she is helpless to stop it. My reaction was recognition--"Yes, that's how it is." The picture shows the physical horror of miscarriage as well as the emotional brokeness. It reflects both sides of the dichotomy, and it's disturbing because it's true. We talk about the emotional despair of miscarriage, but not of the physical horror of it, not of the disturbing sights that we have had to confront, doubled over in our bathrooms, alone. I'm glad that the picture shows both sides.

    Tonya

    What struck me about the full sculpture is that is really captures an action very well. I felt I was not really looking at a single moment in time, but at a length of time, a process, and a painful and perhaps unwanted one.

    I have felt that way, at times in disbelief that what I'm seeing is coming out of me, and this *really* is happening. The very private, personal horror that women exprience in the solitude of bathrooms everywhere, losing a child, or getting yet another period despite every effort to get pregnant. Very poignant.

    Vivien

    Looks like a woman needs to be broken to give the world a life. The blood looks to me like rivers (the source of life) running further and further away. Like children once borne. In fact, in spite of all my miscarriages, which I would have thought make it likely to remind me of that, (and I do agree with Jill about the physical stuff) I actually find it makes me think more of childbirth. Woman feeding the world with the 'labour' of her blood, so to speak. Whatever. Something to think on.

    mm

    I agree with Wessel... my first thought was that this woman is bleeding out, by giving life she's killing herself.

    Check this out: edible fertility goddess!

    http://dailycandy.com/article.jsp?ArticleId=24525&city=1

    pixi

    OMG, can you imagine biting into that butt? Hilarious!

    fisher queen

    Wow. I feel just like that. Like it will never end, that I carry this failure with me everywhere, and that it touches every place I've been.

    pixi

    Vivien, I would love to comment on your blog, but it's for Blogger owners only. We've got much in common - recurrent miscarriage AND family in Albuquerque. It would be nice to touch base with you somehow.

    pixi

    Lori

    I've come back to this image a few times now before I've felt I could comment. For some reason I feel the need to make it positive. I don't know why. I know that dealing with IF, the monthly cycle of menstruation is dreadful but my acupuncturist was once trying to encourage me to embrace the cycle/renewal elements of the menstrual cycle. And I'm trying. BEfore IF I did see it that way. With that in mind, I see her bent inward in an effort to renew the energy that is flowing outward. Not in a pose of vulnerability and pain but of inner regrouping so to speak.
    Yet I can't help but acknowledge the darker more painful lense through which I see the piece. I can't help but see my lost hopes and dreams in those red beads. My body bent under the weight of the sorrow. Wondering when the flow will ever end.
    Still, I want to embrace the image of menstruation as something of strength and empowering. Maybe it's my effort to mend the dichotomy her quote speaks of.
    This has been on my mind for days. Thank you for posting something so though provoking.

    pixi

    Wow, everyone. I'm just floored by the insights and responses you come up with. Talking about art feeds my soul. And I don't I don't have as many opportunities IRL as I used to, so I appreciate that there are people who are willing to do it here. I do worry, though, about the sort of intense reaction that imagery can produce, especially for those in a vulnerable emotional state. For me, it's a way to reflect on and process some of what I've been through. However, I'm concerned that for others, it could come across as a visual attack. I hope not. I know that we read and write about a lot of heavy stuff in this corner of the blogosphere, but looking at pictures can have a different effect - not necessarily deeper or stronger - but different, I think. Anyway, thanks everyone for your sharing your thoughts.

    Mary Scarlet

    Makes me think not only of spilling out, but the potential danger of things flowing in to the body. That's probably due to my perspective on IF -- due to severe PID. I wonder about the wax, too ... an interesting choice. Suggests fragility but also flexibility (or pliability to put a less positive spin on it).

    Bonnie

    Like a couple of other people, I find the the image disturbing (and angry). To me it reminds me of the shame I felt at being a woman when I was in my twenties and my rejection via severe anorexia of the female paradigm of the time.

    It comes across as a very strong feminist statement. As uncomfortable as it makes me feel I agree with her that those splits are still in need of healing.

    fisher queen

    A thought about brokeness and dichotomies: maybe to the extent that we are powerless to heal, we shouldn't try. Maybe our wish to heal what we can't is vanity, and just causes more pain. Should we acknowledge what is broken, what is alien?

    I think about this a lot. There is value and power in sickness/absence/brokeness/otherness.

    Please don't take this as an attempt to brush off tragedy. It's not. It's an attempt to acknowledge it. I think that sometimes if we were to absorb what is horrible, we might have a truer spiritual picture of the world and our existence.

    Not very nice, I know. I'm sorry if I upset anyone- It may be worth talking about though?

    thalia

    I think fisher queen is onto something. But I might see it as healing is not about fixing brokenness, but about acknowledging it, making it part of your new life. That's certainly what therapy meant to me. I wasn't fixed, but I certainly understood myself a lot more clearly.

    The image is very powerful, Pixi. Thanks for continuing to challenge us!

    wessel

    Fisher Queen, there was a book written some years back called Care of the Soul by Thomas Moore (I think that's the author's name). Anyway, he had been a priest then became a therapist, and he spoke on this idea of listening to depression, or the sorrow of the soul, to hear what it might be trying to say to us, rather than rushing off to the doctor to medicate it away. He wasn't anti medication so much as he was wanting people to stop and consider a new and different way that they might approach their depression. Acknowledging pain, and asking what role it has to play in our overall spiritual development, is something he thinks is essential. I found it to be a fascinating concept and a very good book.

    fisher queen

    [Not to take over your blog Pixi!] I agree with you both, Thalia and Wessel, and have often thought along those lines. What about asking those questions from a feminist perspective?

    I had a hard enough time accepting my own female body as a teen and in my twenties. Now to find that it doesn't even work is obviously a head spinner. There is so much failure implied by the sculpture. Not that I'm one to go stare at my cooch in the mirror, but there must be some kind of value in our inabilities to conceive, or sustain pregnancy. Not a "positive" value, but, just as death has meaning, barrenness must mean something other than the collection of letters.

    Getting to what Thalia was suggesting, I have tried to think of it as sickness that I live with. I have sometimes imagined myself as livivng tree with it's strongest limbs missing. But barrenness I think means more than that. Anthroplogical, social and political forces all lend their influence to what it might say about us. It hurts too much for me to think about it any farther than that. I was wondering what you all thought about it.

    I guess it just boils down to the fact that I'm a pollyanna at heart, and I really wanted the sculpture to transcend the failure it describes. This being confronted day after day by the truth of it seems inconceiveable.

    PS Wessel I'm going to go look for that book.

    pixi

    FQ - I appreciate your keeping this going. I'm swamped at work right now, and won't be able to respond until tonight - but I will.

    pixi

    Alexa

    I have spent a lot of time wondering how the experience of menstruation affects us. To be thrown back upon a physical reminder, each month, of how the world acts upon us, that there are forces beyond our control that shape our lives. Men do not have this experience, and I wonder how the sexes experience the world differently because of it. I wonder if the common phenomena of male "mid-life crises" are a result of the distance men are able to maintain between their minds and bodies/nature earlier in their lives--perhaps aging is the first time they are forced to confront, in a physical way, the fact of Necessity: how the world acts upon them in ways beyond their control.
    This is such an interesting discussion, pixi!

    wessel

    Very interesting, Alexa. I was thinking about your comments and it occurred to me that men do sometimes have impotence to keep them humble and mindful that they cannot always control their world. There is also male factor infertility. But, you are absolutely right that any of these situations are "out of the norm" and pathological and probably infrequent, and do not reflect a healthy, normal cyclical routine the way that menses does for women.

    I may have hated my legs growing up (still do), but aside from that, I had no significant body issues. I also loved getting a period and revelled in my femininity. That is partly why infertility and recurrent miscarriage has been so hard on me personally, because I romanticized being a woman, and being a broken down woman just doesn't offer the same thrills, do you know what I mean?

    But back to the topic at hand - menses and the awareness that we, as women, are subject to forces beyond our control in a way that men are not - this needn't be a negative thing, necessarily. If you are in harmony with your cycle, in other words, you are always ready to welcome it, it's all fine and good. It takes on a whole new meaning for those of us trying to conceive, obviously, because then we want our cycle to do something different. Therein lies the problem. But prior to my efforts to have a baby, I didn't feel burdened or constricted by my body's rhythms. More aware of my role or energy as the "receptive" -- yes, but that didn't bother me. Men may have a sort of freedom from their physiology, but women have the potential to nurture life and therefore, the energy of creative power (oh, it hurts to say that, in light of the realities).

    Lori

    Wessel - I too have revelled in my femininity. A hard won achievement after dealing with various body/eating issues in my teens/early 20's that even now creep out on occasion. So it sometimes feel all the more precious. And now to be losing it again, I feel desperate to cling to the sense of wonder of our bodies working in cycles. I've asked J if he feels less connected to the earth as a result of not having a cyclical bodily response. But now that the cycle seems more of a farce than anything else, I'm questioning it's significance in my own life. But again, I still feel like I need to see that image in some form of a positive light. As if it's the last vestige of my positive thoughts.
    To me, the beauty of the sculpture is that I can see it both through the lense of feminine strength and pain.
    Just my thoughts, I'm no art scholar and perhaps I've had too much wine! ;)

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