It has always been about hiding and mas­king mens­trua­tion. This is exactly why art with mesn­trual blood hits the nerve of the time: making the invi­si­ble visi­ble. To finally solve the bloody mys­tery of count­less mens­trua­ting people all over the world. Because one thing is cer­tain: blood will always keep flowing. And brea­king a taboo artis­ti­cally has tra­di­tio­nally been a good idea. Why? When period blood turns into art, people con­sciously engage with their own menstruation.

How are we thinking about our own menstruation?

Whe­ther it be in a saniti­zed white bathroom or with period art: how we think about our own mens­trua­tion has a direct influ­ence on how we feel when we see a pic­ture of it. Ulti­mately, mens­trua­tion is the most nor­mal thing in the world. Through period art, the ever­y­day rea­lity of many people is made visi­ble – whe­ther in abs­tract forms or through real images. Often the mens­trual blood its­elf is used as the colour for the pic­tures. Pain­ting with mens­trual blood, the most natu­ral colour on earth. Why spend money on mate­ri­als when your body gives you free paint every month? It is being attemp­ted to create some­thing beau­ti­ful and spe­cial out of some­thing pain­ful or gross. To change the per­spec­tive of mens­trua­tion and thus rewrite – improve the mea­ning of mens­trua­tion. To accept the body more and to live in har­mony with mens­trua­tion – because it is a gift. A gift to all of us, to humanity.

How did the idea for ‘When period blood turns into art’ arise?

Since I have been free blee­ding, I have been enga­ging with my own period much more inten­si­vely. I con­sciously per­ceive my mens­trual blood. The drai­ned blood, inclu­ding small clots, often draws beau­ti­ful and moving shapes in the water of the toi­let bowl. Even when the mens­trual cup is emp­tied, the trans­pa­rent water chan­ges its colour into many dif­fe­rent shades of red and draws cir­cles. Espe­cially when flus­hing, the red colou­red water swirls and crea­tes beau­ti­ful whirls. Since I have star­ted see­ing and per­cei­ving my mens­trual blood this way, I have deve­lo­ped a com­ple­tely new appre­cia­tion for my own period. Have you ever really loo­ked at your mens­trual blood? A quick tip: Next time you have your period, take a close look before and while flus­hing. You will be sur­pri­sed by how beau­ti­ful your mens­trual blood can be!

The artistic aspiration for art from menstrual blood

Beauty lies in the eye of the behol­der – a state­ment or at least a fee­ling as old as art its­elf. To create high-qua­lity and sophisti­ca­ted aes­the­tic art lies in the power of every human being. It takes prac­tice and a fee­ling for art which is deve­lo­ped over time. The mate­rial is of secon­dary impor­t­ance. Mens­trual blood is as sui­ta­ble for crea­ting as acry­lic paint or other typi­cal colours. The results can undoub­tedly be regar­ded as art. The ima­gi­na­tion of the viewer is sti­mu­la­ted. Com­plex forms and colours are crea­ted, in which the human eye and the phan­tasy of each indi­vi­dual can see the most incredi­ble things. Faces, ani­mals, land­s­capes, under­wa­ter worlds, people – all of this can be reve­a­led in a pic­ture crea­ted by mens­trual blood.

Why am I creating art with menstrual blood?

I want to show the world that mens­trual blood is not dis­gus­ting. It’s not­hing to hide or be asha­med of. There are other ways as well. And I want to show people that my mens­trua­tion is a natu­ral part of me and my cycle. As long as mens­trua­tion is still a taboo, I will remain crea­tive. And I am happy to take on the role of a ‘pro­vo­ca­tive’ mens­trual artist who publis­hes pic­tures and art­work of mens­trual blood and makes people won­der at the sight of it: This is not really real mens­trual blood, is it? But it is.

And how is the menstrual blood collected?

I per­so­nally collect the mens­trual blood for example with a mens­trual cup directly inside my body. But I pre­fer to free bleed, where I take a small cup with me to the toi­let and collect the rejec­ted blood in it. Of course, this also means that some­ti­mes the blood slips fas­ter than I can reach for the cup and it ends up directly in the toi­let. But that is ok.

What usually happens with menstrual blood?

Most people pre­fer not to really deal with their own mens­trual blood at all. We are taught that it is some­thing dis­gus­ting that we should defi­ni­tely hide. Often the mens­trual blood is collec­ted directly inside the body, with a tam­pon and thrown away shortly after. Pads also end up in the trash after only a few hours. Pre­fer­a­bly all of this takes place behind clo­sed doors. And every pos­si­ble effort is made to hide mens­trua­tion. As if it didn’t even exist. And if some­thing does go wrong and small red spots have got­ten on the bed linen or under­wear, it is hid­den with shame.

Does the menstrual blood not smell?

What sur­pri­sed me (and Jamin, my faith­ful pho­to­gra­pher) most of all was that the mens­trual blood – con­trary to the com­mon belief – does not smell at all. Not even after a few days! Howe­ver, it is inte­res­ting to men­tion that the fresh mens­trual blood has dif­fe­rent shades of red depen­ding on the day of the cycle. Some­ti­mes, espe­cially at the begin­ning and at the end of the period, it tends towards brown tones. Once the mens­trual blood has been pain­ted with and is dry­ing on the paper with the air, over time even the stron­gest color of red chan­ges to brown. Gra­du­ally the colors become a little paler. It is super inte­res­ting to be able to see the chan­ges in this way.

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.