Chilean artist Carina Ubeda has been collecting her own menstrual blood on scraps of cloth for five years. Why? So she could eventually create “Paños” (English translation: “Cloths”), an art project in which she put the pieces of bloodied cloth on display.
Placed in embroidery hoops, 90 pieces of the soiled cloths hang next to dangling apples, which are meant to represent ovulation.
Carina Ubeda, from Chile, then stitched the words ‘Production’, ‘Discard’, and ‘Destroyed’ below each of the stains.
Ubeda says she cannot wear normal pads because she has allergies, so these cloths are what work for her. For the display, she sprayed each with disinfectant spray to eliminate odors and maintain hygiene. Oddly enough, patrons still attempt to smell the scraps, according to gallery manager Fritz Demuth, but “the smell just does not exist, [the cloths] are not filthy.”
Though I am absolutely one of those “I don’t get it” people with regard to most art, I find this piece really fascinating and wonderful.
For a long time, I was ashamed of my period. In part, this was because it lasts for-f’ing-ever (10 – 14 days nearly every time), it’s stressfully heavy and it makes me violently ill, but there was also this deep-rooted fear of strangers or acquaintances or people I was romantically interested in realizing I was on my period — that I even had a period. I didn’t mind if my friends knew, but something about it made me feel so incredibly unattractive to those around me. Honestly, even at 23, I am still a bit apologetic about for reasons I cannot quite pinpoint; I sometimes wonder if this is because people do make menstruation seem “filthy” and taboo.
As a result, events like these and that menstrual poetry slam from a few weeks ago are inspirational to me. I am not brave enough to try and break down that barrier on my own, so I strongly appreciate and applaud those who do. Even if you are not fans of being anywhere near somebody else’s menstrual blood — a preference that I find quite understandable — it is great to at least give a little salute to the people who do, as they’re helping to destigmatize one of the most natural, necessary bodily functions in the world.