I've been meaning to post this entry for months now, so I'm very happy to finally be sharing it. Some time ago, I stumbled across an image of Finnish artist Mimosa Pale posing with her Mobile Female Monument or vagina bike, as it has become affectionately known since its debut on Scandinavian city streets. The artist is known to employ conventional mediums in thought-provoking ways, using both performance and sculpture to convey powerful, sometimes unsettling messages about body, environment, nature and human relationships with these things.
The Mobile Female Monument was a sculpture that originally showed in 2007 at Tennispalatsi Art Museum in Helsinki and covered all of the above; the sculpture is a perfectly detailed replica of a woman's vulva and sits atop a four-wheeled bike frame transforming itself into an undeniably inviting and fantastic mobile unit.
On Mimosa Pale's website, you'll find a photo gallery depicting images of the artist towing this quite anatomically correct and convincingly realistic sculpture throughout the streets of what appears to be a bustling Finnish metropolis (Helsinki, perhaps). While making its way through city streets, observers stopped to capture stills of the bike with their mobile phones and interacted with the sculpture. It has coarse little hairs poking out from the area that would encompass the outer lips (labia majora). It even has clit, hood, labia minora and a giant vaginal orifice that can be entered and enjoyed as a seating place for anyone wishing to be a passenger in this 'taxi', of sorts. Amazing!
I think this particular piece of artwork is a refreshing way to establish a sense of comfort with this body part that has for a very long time been viewed as a repugnant one in many cultures. In North America for instance, so many girls grow up questioning what normal vulvae should look like, convincing ourselves that our own are ugly, smelly, and generally unpleasant both aesthetically and conceptually. Mimosa Pale's Mobile Female Monument successfully challenges these types of notions, reducing them to exactly what they are: self-deprecating ideas that teach us never to be comfortable or happy in our own bodies.
When accessible in public settings, a sculpture or performance piece like this one allows for mass de-stigmatization of social and cultural relationships with the female body. Previously learned attachments to negative ideas regarding women's bodies can be challenged not only by women, but by men, children, and all other members of a community alike. Bringing female body parts into the open (so to speak) and breaking up the "male-centric" fabric that has woven its way into much of society over the centuries appears to be exactly what Mimosa had in mind and, to that I say, mission: beautifully accomplished.