Artist Poppy Jackson's latest live performance piece with menstrual blood hopes to destigmatize women’s periods. On a domestic level, she has managed it already. “My stepfather just asks me to make sure it is properly sealed container before putting it back in family fridge. It is just blood now – just something else I am working with,” she tells us.
Rather than sticking to her own ‘supplies’ (if you will), Jackson has placed a call out for menstrual blood donations in London and Bradford. For her, blood is nothing new. In her previous work “Television Lounge” she stood for seven hours in the corner of an old Police Headquarters whilst blood dripped out of her where the staff room television would sit.
In recent weeks, there has been a growing feeling of tension – especially within creative and online communities – at the treatment of menstrual blood. But, Jackson does not feel under pressure by this to make something more ‘extreme’. Instead she feels that the similarities between topics signifies that a frustration is building in our culture and actually makes messages from all the artists a lot more powerful. Indeed, this attitude is reflected in the exhibition itself as her work will be displayed alongside Rupi Kaur’s insta-censored images as part of a show entitled Exquisite Body. Jackson says, “My performance art led me to recognise how the body is political. It can do so many things and is just an amazing vehicle to say something about the state of society with – everyone has a body so people can all relate in some way.”
The collective, and live performance element, is not a stunt to garner attention but, she says, “The collectivity (of the menstrual blood) is a response to the distance the Internet places between people’s bodies in contemporary society. These days we go to the Internet for a lot of things and it loses that one-to-one flavour that you would get with your doctor.” She adds, “The human contact of speaking is replaced by isolated online activity, so through use of the substance of people’s bodies I’m hoping to bring some of that closeness back.” On top of that, Jackson mentions how much more risky it is performing with other people’s blood as due to any potential of diseases she cannot “just throw it around as if it were her own.”
“My performance art led me to recognise how the body is political. It can do so many things and is just an amazing vehicle to say something about the state of society with – everyone has a body so people can all relate in some way” – Poppy Jackson
However as not all women get periods (or get their periods in the same way) Jackson explains she is also excited by how her latest work is challenging what menstrual blood even is. One of the donations comes from the AMAE collective who have given Jackson blood extracted from a no-ink genital tattoo. Traditionally, stiflingly rigid gender constructions have maintained their salience through relying the ‘natural’ differences between men and women. Yet, Jackson’s work has the potential to radically alter conservative conceptions of the female body and its purposes. She jokes, “I’ve learnt so much about myself and the identity of others through my use of menstrual blood, it is a surprisingly good way to learn.”
Jackson will perform at Bradford’s Fuse Art Space on 6 September, 2015. For more information, click here. Keen to donate? You can do so until Sunday if you’re in London or Bradford. If interested, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. or email@example.com to arrange collection
Follow Jade Jackman on Twitter here @JadeShamraeff