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I started working on my feminist photo-zine, ‘Vagina Dentata’ at The London College of Communication where I currently study BA (Hons) Fine Art Photography. We were asked to create a photographic manifesto with modernism in mind last year and I found the process captivating to say the least. To be frank, I had a remarkably heated relationship with my tutor, but her subjectivity made me even more passionate about my intentions. Regardless of her feedback, I continued to photograph my friends and family, because it felt right. I want to work on this story for at least another five years, as it is truly a new lease of life for me.
Vagina Dentata (Latin for toothed vagina) derives from folklore, and it has been explored by several religions metaphorically, illustrating the ‘dangers’ of female sexuality. The teeth are usually removed by force in these tales, thus attempting to ‘glorify’ manhood as superior. In a sacred Aino text written in 1886 The Island of Women, a chief and his sons are seduced by women who sprout teeth in their Vaginas every spring, but the chief still walks away with his penis intact – “All the Ainus saw the beautiful scabbard which the chief had used with that woman.” This ancient story has influenced contemporary culture in a literal way, as The Shinto Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus) which still takes place annually in Japan.
My photo-zine rejects these despicable notions. It consists of portraits that I have taken of inspirational women that I know on a personal level; along with their written reflections on life and the freedom manifest within radical expression. My intention was to encapsulate their electric energy, and shed light on the indomitable strength they encompass within our patriarchal society. Some of the women that I have had the pleasure of working with include Alexandra Moon-Age a multi- disciplinary artist, Bjørk Grue Lidin performing ‘CONSENT FUCKED’, Maman Charlotte, a hard working activist for rape victims of the DROC, and another is my auntie, Ayamba Akim – an athlete who competes with ladies who are half her age. I am thrilled to say that my photo-zine will be published by the one and only Ditto Press. The launch, along with a private view of selected prints will be held at their gallery based in East London on the 7th of May.