Uterus flags, women’s labour, feminist art

// 3 September 2008

Two artists created some interesting work for the Manifesta 7 art festival, reviewed over at We Make Money Not Art. Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson’s pieces are a response to the “dense history of women-labour in the Rovereto area”, where the festival was held.

First up, Uterus Flags!


The flags were strung up in the town, and you can see more of them on the artists’ blog. I am somewhat ambivilent about uterus-based art, but this does make quite an impact.

Uterus Flags is a new version of a work exhibited earlier in various European cities. The flags, in 9 different color combinations, inspired by heraldry and party-flags, bear the silhouette of the female sexual organs; uterus, falopian tubes, ovaries and vagina. Exhibited in the streets of Rovereto, celebrating in the urban public space, the flags become a part of the city´s architecture and life throughout the duration of the exhibition.

The second piece of work was called “caregivers”, part documentary, part music video, shows women migrants from Ukraine and Romania, who work providing care to elderly people in the area.

We found the article, describing the recent and rapidly growing phenomenon of Ukrainian women migrating to Italy to work as caregivers, on the internet. The writer is a young Italian-American journalist Davide Berretta. We commissioned the composer Karólína Eiríksdóttir to write music to the article. She wrote the music for a soprano, women choir and an oboe. The music is recorded in Iceland and performed by the soprano Ingibjörg Guðjónsdóttir, the oboe player Matthías Nardeau and the

Women Choir of Garðabær.

Comments From You

Debs // Posted 3 September 2008 at 6:14 pm

I find the uterus flags (and some other uterus-based art) quite offensive, really. To have the essense of what a woman is reduced to one organ, and that organ being one that not all women possess, I find unhelpful, to say the least. I understand the intentions of such art, but think those intentions could be fulfilled in a much less exclusive way.

Whenever I see artwork like this, I can’t help but think what the “male” equivolent might be – rows of flags with a brightly-coloured penis on each? And how laughable and innappropriate would we (rightly) find that? So, what is the difference, really?

Chloe // Posted 3 September 2008 at 7:25 pm

“I am somewhat ambivilent about uterus-based art”

– I don’t see why, I mean, we’re so often encouraged to think that our bodies are disgusting (my male friends who “ew” every time periods or childbirth are even hinted at, for example) that it’s refreshing to see someone using it in art. And it’s so stupid that I even think that. Why is it okay to use penises in art, but female reproductive organs are seen as weird?

Bethan // Posted 3 September 2008 at 8:46 pm

I may well be alone in this, but far from feeling ‘ambivilent’ about uterus bunting, I now covet some fiercely for my appartment… it’s BUNTING, what’s not to love?

Jess McCabe // Posted 3 September 2008 at 10:07 pm

Well, it’s just that the images are used so much. I get that it can be good – women’s anatomy in the public space, especially, is great. But what with uterus tshirts, uterus undies, uterus bags, I feel a bit uterused out.

Natasha Sazonova // Posted 20 August 2009 at 4:47 am

At first glance I thought those were stylized ram heads…

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