For our project, Evan and I created a series of photos paired with gathered quotations from individuals recalling their experiences dealing with menstruation. Today we will be showing you our series digitally, but we are in the process of making it in to a zine.
In early stages of this project, we spent time digging into our memories and unpacking our own perceptions of menstruation in order to develop a basis for the photographs. We took the photographs over a period of days, taking turns suggesting focal points of the images. In this way the photos reflect both of our perspectives: Evan’s external perception, and my internalized perception of my own menstruating body. We took photos around our personal spaces to try and convey intimacy and truth, exposing what menstruation means to us in the context of our lives. During this process we thought about how our perceptions are in part formed by the environment in which we first encountered menstruation, and the people surrounding us during this time. We realized that in order to truly understand our own perceptions, we would have to understand those of others. We began asking our close friends and family members their thoughts on menstruation, emphasizing how they perceived it during adolescence and early years of discovery. Off the bat we began to see patterns between our own thoughts and theirs, and reflections of their words in our photos. We decided to pair quotations from these individuals with our photographs. This unexpected integration is key to making this exploration representative of our own lived experiences. About half if the responses came from men, and half from women, which was also essential in understanding this subject. It gave insight from both male and female perspectives to represent our own differentiated viewpoints.
By gathering responses, we hoped to allow this project to unfold in an open-minded, open-ended manner, leaving enough ambiguity that the quotations would speak for themselves. By pouring our own perspectives as well as collected responses into our series, we are analyzing both the idea of a body existing in a space and the body as a space itself. In our extended research, we drew on historical accounts of menstruation in cultural and religious practice around the world, to gain a broader understanding of menstruation in society, and how this history informs how we perceive it today. This allowed us to make connections between modern day stigmas and the old cultural customs that they rooted from.