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Womanhouse (1973)

Between the dates of January 3oth and February 28th an amazing installation was created by a group of women at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in the Feminist Art Program. Judy Chicago & Miriam Schapiro both co-founders of the program worked with their students and the community to create the unflinching and under appriatiated art experience called WOMANHOUSE.

Together they took over a building and each artist constructed a room that showed without apology there interpretation of the (middle class white) female experience. The bathroom was done by Judy Chicago and titled Menstruation Bathroom. A waste basket overflows with dirty bloody pads and feminine hygiene products scattered about.

Sandra Orgel created Linen Closet which shows a women trapped inside a linen closet with neatly folded towels and her head in what appears almost like a guillotine. One leg is outside as if she is free but not free from the female experience we are taught to embrace and feel stuck inside.

Sadly it is hard to come by images of all the rooms in the house. According to Wikipidia these were the rooms:

Beth Bachenheimer (Shoe Closet)
Sherry Brody (Lingerie Pillows)
Faith Wilding (Womb Room)
Kathy Huberland (Bridal Staircase)
Sandra Orgel (Linen Closet)
Camille Grey (Lipstick Bathroom)
Robin Weltsch and Vicki Hodgetts (Nurturant Kitchen)
Miriam Schapiro (Doll’s House)
Judy Chicago (Menstruation Bathroom).

Johanna Demetrakas filmed the performance pieces: Faith Wilding (Waiting), Sandra Orgel (Ironing), Judy Chicago (Cock and Cunt Play, performed by Faith Wilding and Janice Lester), Karen LeCocq (Leah's Room).

It is amazing that a group of women came together and formed a community and through art shared their female experience. It is visceral and yet sad. There was a film made about this installation that can be purchased for an expensive price ($250 for a DVD).

Info from the Women Make Movies site:
A film by Johanna Demetrakas
1974, 47 minutes, Color, VHS/DVD

There needs to be more collaborative work among women!

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