Experiment 2: Preparing for the big day

Things are progressing. Today Alexandra and I gathered up all the materials and did a first test in the Copenhagen University toilets where A Material Conversation will be held. Making an installation is loads of work and everything has to be considered; the number of times we’ve asked ourselves what it means to use a certain material, place something in a certain place or use a certain word this week…

It’s been a hunt for the perfect sandwich bag for storing sanitary pads and the perfect container for blood. On Thursday I deposited my first tampon in the test tubes we’ve acquired online, looked at it and thought: “perfect”. This is the kind of person I’m becoming. The kind that looks at a bloody tampon in a plastic tube and is delighted.

Below will follow a tale of our trials in pictures, but I want to add one thought before proceeding. I see all these preparations and aesthetic/strategic/conceptual decisions as a part of my research. This is one of the points of using art methodologies, setting up an interactive installation in all its aspects teaches us about the subject of research as much as reading and writing about it. It’s definitely a different kind of knowledge that emerges, but one that is equally valuable. The experiment’s outcome, which is still unknown, will be a product of this situation that we have created and on conclusion we will be able to reflect on the results as a whole.

Right now we’re trying to figure out how to collect data from the menstruators that donate at the conference. Which questions do we ask? Which aesthetics do we reference; a medical reality? A kitchen? And what does that mean? If we want the act of depositing to be the central, embodied experience, one that isn’t mediated by language, then how can we ask for information that is submitted in writing? Where does the boundary between conscious, linguistic experience and embodied experience lie and how do we navigate it? How do our choices effect our menstruator’s experiences? So. Complicated.

How to find the perfect container. Ikea, cause we're on a budget. These are spaghetti jars that we've taken the lid off to avoid the too blatant kitchen reference.

First try. We had to move the table with glasses back to the wall, no need to force non-menstruators to look too much at it if they don't want to. Also, placement of bags on back wall is unpractical.

And we'll need much stronger adhesive to make sure the bags don't fall down, which would be cringeworthy. But we like the blue/plastic look.

"go in and try it!" says Alexandra. We had to move the table back a bit so as not to force non-menstruators to interact with the blood. Wouldn't want to force people to do gross stuff.

And here I seem to be immersed in thought regarding the positioning, probably the height, of the plastic bags on the wall. We decided to hang them on the other side of the toilet bowl.

This is the first installation test. We're changing placement of the bags and I'm painting the tables tonight. Alexandra is working on designing the data collection forms and that little sign with our names on it. A surprising amount of work goes into such a little sign.

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