Why I decided to begin with Body Prints…
To be very honest, the motivation behind Body prints was my curiosity to experiment with menstrual blood. I wanted to see the patterns that my ‘pure’ blood was able to create after I’d release my body from a static position. I was keen on witnessing the spots that the black ink I’d rubbed all over my body would create. But the deeper I involved myself with Body prints, the less curious I became about the patterns. My mind clicked and the entire process developed into an emotional one. I remembered what I was told when I got my first period.
I was told not to enter the Gurudwara (Sikh place of worship) or the kitchen, as I was considered to be dirty and impure. As time went by, I grasped the capabilities I possess as a woman. Body prints (created through curiosity) is a project that I later took up in order to unmask the disgust people express when a woman gets her period.
Reactions of people who saw Body prints…
After Body prints was completed, I began showing it around. The trick was to not tell anyone what it really was. Why? Because I wanted to see how easily people can change their opinions. Without knowing what the red ink that they were looking at really was, their reactions were quite enthusiastic as well as positive. “I’d love to frame it,” “It is so touching,” “A performance,” “Wow wow wow!,” “I’m impressed.“ But that was before they knew that it was menstrual blood. After I revealed what they were really looking at, their positive reactions took a u-turn. “How dare you?,” “This is disgusting!,” “I even hate touching my own blood!,” “Eeewwww,!” “Are you crazy?”
See how humans can change their opinions? But that did not stop me from carrying on. That gave me the boost to keep going.
How do I make sure that my artwork is not a breeding ground for bacteria as blood is a carrier of the same?
Briefly, Body prints was created on paper and in order to avoid being “unhygienic,” I photographed bits out of an entire canvas and digitized each and every image.
How is my project fighting the stigma around periods?
Body prints is very close to the actual process of menstruation. It is a sanitary pad turned over, stamped on a piece of paper, photographed, digitized and then presented to the outer world. I am fond of creating new perspectives and this project indeed is a different way to present a taboo topic to society. Body prints stands for being over-extrovert and not of being embarrassed,shameful or disgusting for being a woman. The more I talk to people about my intentions regarding this projects, the more they tend to understand and realize how naive opinions can be. We unconsciously preach what we are taught in our families but to bring about a change in our character is our job. We can mold ourselves and make a better version of ourselves as each day goes by. So why not bring Body prints ahead and change society’s moral values concerning menstruation? A woman goes through severe pain and brings a life into this planet. Menstruation is a gift, not a taboo. Our bodies are divine and our bodies reflect art. The blood you shed when you lose your virginity is considered pure, but why not the blood you shed every month?
Future project in this regard.
I am currently working on a project that is interlinked with Body prints. I am collecting stories of women from different parts of this planet centering around their menstrual experience/s My motive is to know their experiences, what they came across when they got their period. I want to capture a variety of stories, whether it was a good experience or bad. Was it embarrassing? Was it like torture? Was it satisfying? Was is tragic? Was it because of religion or culture? Was it because of your moral values? Was it because you don’t like menstruation? Was it because of your gender? Was it because of your caste? I want to know every detail. After I receive these stories, I want to create a Body print for every story. Depending on the intensity of the stories (if it is very intense), I will use more blood and conversely, if it is not so intense, I will use less blood.
Raman Chana is a Frankfurt based artist She sees art in everything and shares intimacy with it. Raman is currently pursuing her bachelor’s in film-making.
Editor: Divya Rosaline