It’s difficult to represent a delicate and such censored thing like a vagina.
Every society has a taboo and ours is the feminine genitalia. But not for Daantje Bons: she is not afraid to represent what woman’s body is, of what is made, what really is the true feminism, the one that talks about equality and not scared to talk such “taboo” things like the V thing.
With influences from pop art and La Chapelle, here, for you, the bizarre and stravagant colored world of Daantje. Enjoy yourself.
Daantje, I’m thrilled to talk about your beautiful works. Your pictures are a mix of kitsch and pop, can you tell where do you take ideas for your photos?
Thank you so much! Well, since I can remember I have been inspired by the 1950’s and 1960’s of the west in all its forms. I find the total manufacturability of this time intriguing and mysterious. Creating a façade and building ideals in such a sugar coated way creates a friction between everyday life and human thirst for desire and dreaming. A lot of my subjects are build upon the idea of an ideal and I like to play with that in my photographs as well.
Have you got some artists that influence you?
Yes I do! I love to get inspired by a lot of people and artists. For example Maurizio Cattelan, with his satirical way of presenting an idea with sculptures, they make you look twice and really think about what you are looking at. Something I hope to do as well within my work. Cindy Sherman inspired me by using myself and my own identity and question my identity trough photography by aiming the lens upon myself. The works of Isabelle Wenzel have had a huge impact throughout my last year on the art academy, her alienated photographs of the body in a space showed me the options of using body language in an image. And Guy Bourdin has been a long time inspiration with his surreal metaphorical and movies-still feel like photographs. Those artists are very different from each other within their own medium and creations but for me they are very similar in the way they express themselves through art.
Why vaginas? What is the concept behind this project?
I grew up with the idea that a vulva was not something to talk about. Or to be seen. It was something not lady-like to discuss or expose. While penises and fallus-shaped objects where seen everywhere. For example, there was never a drawing of a vulva on the toiletdoor in high school wile penises where to be found everywhere. It made me feel empowered to be „provocative” and show vulvas as a statement against enforcing lady-like behavior.
You represent in creative and strange ways the body of a lot of women, especially the V thing. Why, in your opinion, is it still a taboo talking about such a normal body part?
I think it also might have to do with a lot of shame about female sexuality. It is not „appropriate” for girls and other vulva owners to talk about it in a sexual way. It makes you promiscuous, which is still a sin for a woman nowadays. Being open about your sexuality can even be dangerous in a lot of ways. People think you have given consent by default for showing sexuality. Or you are not to be taken serious, which can lead to other problems even in the workplace. Therefore I think it is a body part we should talk about and look at.
What is feminism for you?
For me personally it is about creating a world where people can discover and build their own identity without being hold back because of their gender, origin, skin color or sexual preference. Feminism as a whole has a lot of different angles of approach and I find it very valuable and necessary to listen and learn about other peoples experiences. Feminism for me personally gave me the power to speak my mind and propose some different ideas about gender, which I am very grateful for.
What means being a woman for you?
It means I have been grown up in a world where being a woman is build on ideas about what a woman should be. I am actually not sure my self what it means to me (yet). I know my body is female and that I have no problem with that, but I think I am more aimed at what femininity and masculinity mean to me. Being a woman gives me the opportunity to see and discover the world in a way that is different from being another gender. There are different rules, ideals and manners for women that I like to research within my own daily life but I come to believe that these have more to do with cultural customs than with me being a woman.