Vaginas come in all shapes and sizes, as is amply demonstrated by photographer Philip Werner in 101 Vagina: One Hundred and One Women, One Hundred and One Stories. The full, uncensored exhibition and coffee table book launched at the Tap Gallery and Theatre in Darlinghurst in September as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival and has now arrived in Melbourne this week, showing at the Colour Factory in Fitzroy.
“It’s a bit quirky, it’s a bit cheeky, but it’s also serious and profound,” says Werner of his project, which was inspired by the Vagina Monologues. Not the first to make the vagina their chief subject, Werner’s follow works such as Gustav Courbet’s L'Origine du monde of 1866, an oil canvas painting of the spread legs and genitalia of the artist’s muse.
Through 101 Vagina, Werner invites viewers to discuss the vagina more comfortably. Werner hopes this will encourage women to feel more comfortable with their bodies, doing away with the need to alter appearances through cosmetic labiaplasty, a procedure on the rise in Australia.
But not everyone has been comfortable with the exhibition. The 101 Vagina exhibit at 107 Projects Gallery in Redfern in June was visited by police, who responded to local complaints about the images.
But Werner looks forward to the discussions it sparks. “Someone’s had their legs crossed for their entire life and to come to a place where the issue can be opened up is very powerful for a lot of people,” he says.
The 101 Vagina Exhibition will show at Colour Factory in Fitzroy from 25 September to 6 October, 2013.