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The Wall of Vaginas: More Garbage that Passes for Art!


Jamie McCartney

 We all know that the female genitalia has served as artistic inspiration for a multitude of projects worldwide in the long history of art, usually to explosive and/or polarizing effects.  [16] Some people gets in trouble over this kind of endeavor.  We just have to remember japanese artist Rokudenashiko, whose vagina boat project got her arrested for obscenity. [19] In a totally different mindset, British artist Jamie McCartney is creating vagina art that isn’t meant to titillate, shock, or anger. Well, so he says. According to him, the Great Wall of Vagina is an installation that is supposedly intended to de-mystify the vagina.  [16] While dudes can surreptitiously compare their junk during forced communal peeing sessions, due to restroom etiquette (and anatomy) women don’t get many opportunities to see other women’s genitals. [5] McCartney knows vagina art is normally set aside for pornographers and erotic artists, but his piece is not to stimulate, but communicate.  [7] The artist somehow convinced over 400 women to spread their legs for him so he can make a plaster cast of their vagina and display them en masse in a gallery space [14] without paying them a dime. [8] [15] That’s right folks! 400 FREE Vaginas of 400 different women on a wall, maybe this will sound like music to the ears of most men, but the sigh of some of them may make you want to throw up.  Others looks like they have been beaten with a stick or something. For those of you who thinks that this is shocking or that it lacks good taste, well, you’re not alone.  Even McCartney admits that “it is in fact not sexy at all.” [10]  But as you may suspect, the artist himself and those who are actualy helping him exposing this discuting “Wall of Vaginas” are telling you that this art project is definitely not created with a pornographic or sexual approach.  Of course not!  How could you think such a thing?  This is ART… ok! So why people should care about such an exposition?  If it’s not pornographic so why do some people are still shocked or bored by this kind of “art”? Maybe it’s not that exposing vaginas on a massive scale is such a big deal morally speaking, it’s just that at the end of the day it doesn’t look very different than the countless other ways that modern society is constantly throwing sex right in our faces all day long.   Yet, some people are still calling this kind of art “revolutionary” and “ground breaking.”  Smashing the taboos is now such a mainstream thing to do that it has become soporific.  This is maybe why the feedback on “The Great Wall of Vagina” has been mixed so far.  Some call it the new wonder of the world, [16] others declare the whole thing so gross it would make one “instantly gay.” [17]  The Global Post wants its readers to “spare a thought for the poor British artist, Jamie McCartney,” and to ask themselves “how many plaster casts does it take before you don’t ever want to see another vagina ever again?” [7]  But for other intellectually naive people like Sarah power from the College Times, it may be a wonderful learning experience. She thinks that:

For anyone who has never actually seen a real vagina and uses porn sites as their only reference, this would be a fantastic exhibition to with which to educate yourself. [18]

The journalist from Urban Ind who interviewed Jamie McCartney told his reader, “I don’t think anyone have seen that many close-up vaginas since that summer in the nineties when those miniskirts were just about two inches too short.” [15]  According to the Erotic Literary Salon, “it’s not vulgar, it’s vulva. This isn’t just sensation, it is art with a social conscience. [21]

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Jamie McCartney is an English artist, trained at Hartford Art School, USA, from where he graduated with highest honours in 1991. Generally his work has been three-dimensional in nature and often experimental in approach. Jamie is an artist who is hard to define. He admits to having had a largely sculptural oevre but his work crosses many disciplines and he shuns any particular label. “I blame my degree in Experimental Studio Art… I’m still experimenting”.

vagina-copertinaThis is most certainly true. The Great Wall of Vagina proves it, as does his latest body of work, Physical Photography. These are themed life-sized body portraits taken without a camera but with an adapted document scanner. If there is a McCartney signature it is his completely fresh approach to making art. No subject is taboo, no process or material is off limits. He embraces experiment as the driving force behind his creativity, often putting himself in extremis to fulfill his self-imposed briefs. When questioned, “I just make stuff” is his mantra. This mock humility belies a strong, some would say eccentric, character with a definite je ne sais quoi… He’s a maverick, an enfant terrible and what he makes is causing quite a stir.

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great-wall-of-vaginaMcCartney began his career running his own forge, making abstract animal sculptures in steel. He subsequently moved into prop/model making, sculpting and special effects in the film industry. Jamie worked on films such as Blackhawk Down, Charlotte Gray, Around the World in 80 Days and Casino Royale.  Now one of his most recent work consists of ​​10 panels called “The Great Wall of Vaginas.” McCartney explains how the project began: “When I assembled the first panel of 40 casts, arranged in a grid, I stepped back disappointed. I realised the sculpture would need to be much bigger to have the impact I wanted. From this original piece (called Design A Vagina) has grown an epic sculpture. The final piece now has 400 casts arranged in 10 panels of 40.” [4] The premise of McCartney’s project is to make the most intimate place of the woman more understandable with this wall.   And you’ll see that some of them does not offer a pretty sight.  Jamie tells us that he made molds of the vaginas of women between 18 and 76 years. Among others, they include twins and transgender women. So, walking across the “Wall,” it’s normal that you may encounter things that are more strange than others. With this project, the artist demonstrates not only his ability to craft effective word play, but also his knack for capturing the physical diversity of labia in a 30-foot polyptych, The Huffington Post said. [2] “This is about grabbing the attention, using humour and spectacle, and then educating people about what normal women really look like,” “The Great Wall of Vagina” official Web site states. There McCartney makes sure to point out that the work of sculpture is not erotic art, nor is it pornography — it’s actually closer to “the Vagina Monologues of sculpture.” [2]  Discussing where the idea first came to him to work on vaginas, McCartney told Urban Ind:

I created this piece because whilst working on a commission for a sex museum casting both vaginas and penises I discovered that many women are just as anxious about their genitals as many men are. It comes down to lack of knowledge about what normal people really look like. [15]

“For many women their genital appearance is a source of anxiety,” McCartney adds on the site, “and I was in a unique position to do something about that.” [2] The study from Flinders University found that 13% of women had received negative messages from partners about the appearance of their genitalia, and 19% had discussed the way their vulva looked with friends. [19] The goal of the piece is literally to change people’s mindset on the “perfect vagina.” [7] Women are often confused about their vagina, because they think it looks different: with this project he demonstrates that vaginas are as different as faces. [1]  McCartney explained to Vice:

 I decided that there needed to be some sort of online archive of vagina which women could peruse to reassure themselves that no vag is normal, because they come in so many wide and wondrous variations. Like deep sea creatures. [3]

Buzzfeed, in their article covering the documentary about the project, reminds you that the models who spread their legs for this project have gone through “a pretty weird experience to make you feel less weird…about your genitals. ” [13]  As far as he is concerned, McCartney hopes that his work will at least help to stop the increasing growth of labia corrections in recent years. The Brighton Magazine describes the Great Wall of Vaginas as “a sculpture intended to change the lives of women” and thinks that “it is without a doubt succeeding.” [20] According to Bustle, the Great Wall of Vagina provides a way for women — viewers and participants alike — to love their lips. [19] In a moving video, a woman who hates the appearance of her vulva so much she considered surgery got a cast done by McCartney. When she looks the result, she tears up. “It looks so small!” she says. “I was expecting this massive thing…” She makes a jellyfish-like motion with her hands, as if she were expecting a monster to swim out from between her legs. [19]


McCartney’s frequent appearances to discuss his art in the press and on TV have also done much to boost his profile at home and abroad. Standing on the brink of international success, he appears unaffected by all the attention. Working still from his studio in Brighton, England, he occasionally welcomes visits from the public, keen to glimpse what he is up to next. If you are lucky enought to visit on such a day then relish it. Art of England recently said of Jamie, “The world will be talking about Jamie McCartney for a long time to come.” [20]

[1] Ami Angelowicz, The Great Wall Of Vaginas Is The 8th Wonder Of The World, The Frisky, January 6, 2014
[3] Alice Mckeever, This Guy Built a Wall of Vaginas, Vice, May 17, 2012
[4] The Great Wall of Vagina (NSFW), Mamamia, 14 March 2011
[5] Margaret Hartmann, The Fantastic “Great Wall Of Vagina” Exhibit [NSFW], Jezbell, 3/14/11 11:30pm
[8] Be part of the ‘Great Wall of Vagina’, Now. Here. This,  4:00 pm, January 24, 2012
[9] But is it ART? Or wank? You tell us., Well This Is What I Think, September 22, 2014
[10] THE GREAT WALL OF VAGINA, Don’t Panic, 28 Monday 28th March 2011
[12] Lissa Rankin, The Great Wall of Vagina, Care2, June 17, 2011
[13] Peggy Wang, Great Wall Of Vagina: The Documentary, BuzzFeed,  June 27, 2011, at 6:49 a.m.
[14] The Great Wall of Vagina by Jamie McCartney, Dooby Brain,  June 27, 2011
[15] The Great Wall of Vagina, Urbans Ind, March 25, 2011
[17] Iva Roze Skoch, The Great Wall of Vagina, Global Post, February 6, 2012 11:56
[18] Sarah Power, Artist Creates The Great Wall Of Vagina (NSFW), College Times, Jan 22, 2014
[20] Mike Cobley, Suit Of Success: Vaginas & A Life-Sized Photo Of A Naked Jesus Put Local Artist In The Money, The Brighton Magazine, Saturday 23 June 2012
[21] Great Wall of Vagina – Jamie McCartney – Skin Deep – FREE, The Erotic Literary Salon, May. 29 2014

About Bill Wallace

Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

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