The multi-sensorial installation La Specola employs video narratives, tactile sculpture, surveillance and a 3D touch-screen interface to address the mingling of myth and medicine in gynecology.
Innumerable cultures with a lasting written or oral history reference the archetype of the vagina dentata. The cultural fantasy of teeth in soft, dark places informs Western medicine’s approaches to the vagina. At heart in both myth and medicine is to control and make visible the body’s mysterious caverns, which are at once seductive, grotesque, pathological, and sacred.
The interactive installation “La Specola” is an invitation to experience themes of violation, pleasure and fear within the structure of medical examination. Jiggly, tactile latex sculptures and cloying beeswax panels position viewers’ bodies within the installation, provoking visceral responses to reveal our cultural conditioning to the abject, the pleasurable, and the taboo.
Many thanks to: Culture, Brain and Development grant for La Specola: Medical Examination & Archetypes of the Vagina Dentata interactive multimedia installation (Hampshire College & The Foundation for Psycho-Cultural Research); H.I.P. grant for performance art & exhibition; Collective Image grant for photographic art; Samuel Butler; Brian Kendall; Michael Dessen; Mariangeles Soto-Diaz; Christoph Cox; Baba Hillman; Megan Palaima; Ben Mauer; Elena Bayrock; Zane Thimmesch-Gill; Nadia Berrigan; Gary Berrigan.