My self portrait work is autobiographical but I hope that others will recognise the spirit of the work. Inspired by drawing an apple each day for a month, I wondered what it would be like to document my menstrual cycle. My cycle is one of the main influences on my identity. It’s generally invisible to the wider world except to those closest to me. My periods started when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, and are now becoming erratic with Theresa May as PM. I thought it could be interesting to explore a cycle while they’re still here.
Outside of pregnancy, the art world’s representation of the menstrual cycle is generally limited to the period itself, the housekeeping part of the cycle (cf Judy Chicago’s Red Flag). The cycle’s about far more than that though. We don’t mark those exuberant mid-cycle days or the days of calmness and strength. I was inspired by Roni Horn’s I am the weather series, where the expression of a woman in an outdoor swimming pool changes according to the weather. I wondered if a series of self portraits throughout my cycle could show the effects of my changing internal hormonal climate, juxtaposed with more objective data from Clue, a period tracking app.
I used my phone to take selfies every morning and Clue screen captures later that day to prevent the data affecting the selfie. I combined the two in Photoshop each evening. Presentation options included a calendar-style grid, spiral bound prints, Mobius loops with the images printed as photobooth style strips, carousel style hand-made book or a carousel of slides. Choices were limited by the very small size of the selfie camera images from my phone (960pixels on the shortest side).
I took selfies and screenshots each day of my Feb/March cycle which encompassed Valentines Day, International Women’s Day and the general run-up to Easter. Images were made from Day 6 of one cycle through to day 5 of the next.
In addition to the A3 final contact sheet with the whole cycle I also submitted ten 5×5 square full-bleed prints.
Judychicago.com. (2018). Selected work « Judy Chicago. [online] Available at: http://www.judychicago.com/gallery/early-feminist/ef-artwork/ [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018]. Not safe for work.
Hauserwirth.com. (2018). Artists — Roni Horn — Images and clips — You are the Weather — Hauser & Wirth. [online] Available at: https://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/images-clips-view/?artist_id=14&a=roni-horn&p=104 [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].