I began collecting my period blood in the winter of 2013. Each month I poured my collected menses from my menstrual cup (an awesome environmentally friendly alternative to tampons) into a medium-sized mason jar and tucked it behind my toilet. I co-produced a feminine-centric, transformational theater piece in NYC called Off the Muff that year. In order to submerse myself in the culture we were creating, I began this experiment.
After four cycles, Elisa, the director of Off the Muff, grabbed the mason jar. We wanted to explore creating a video using the blood as the subject. She set up a mini tripod in the corner of her East Village apartment, it was night time and lights from the city slowly lit the table she had placed a stock of books on top of. We positioned our chairs in front of the table, with our mason jar in one hand and small cup of tap water in a plastic up on the stack. Elisa slowly begain pouring the blood on top of four books and recorded as she slowly poured the blood into a cup of water.
When we plugged the SD card into the computer and synced it up with music, the menses and the song began a spontaneous dance – they were perfectly scored in a liquid ballet. It was actually shocking. Spiritually activating. A visceral response I was not expecting.
What was right there on the screen in front of me, had been inside of me. The insides of my own womb. Something I had somehow learned to avoid. Something I had somewhere learned not to speak about above a whisper. But right there, on the screen was…me. And in that moment a sense of nostalgia rocked me so hard to the present it was impossible to ignore.
Right there was love. Right there was death. Right there was possibility. Right there was power; the technology for birth. Right there was everything that could be, and everything that never would. I had never truly thought about it – what it meant to be a woman. What it meant to have a period. What it meant to bleed each month. What it meant to be alive. In that moment, life was staring back at me and I could feel it.
I wanted to share it with all my friends. How beautiful this image was. And yet, if I mentioned what it was, the sheer shock might deter some people. Why? Why did I feel ashamed of this process? How could we ever feel embarrassed of our potential to create?
We projected this image onto four white walls for our show, but we didn’t tell the audience what it was. Those that observed the projections, told us the ambience was surreal. One woman said she didn’t know what it was, and when she realized it was menses she felt safe, in a profound way.
We as women are powerful. I realize that more and more everyday. This video is a reminder of just that. An expression of the infinite power that lies in between the legs of each woman on this planet. This video is an invitation to empower that truth, to celebrate that truth, and to respect it.
Photo Credit: Jen Lewis