Blood Stains: Can We Really Call That Art?

STORY BY Candace Bryan

Published: July 25, 2013

I can admit, I find a lot of contemporary art questionable. While I’ve certainly seen some truly inspirational works, some leave me scratching my head. It often feels as though the line between “art” and “something-done-merely-for-attention” is blurry, especially in our increasingly digital age. When popularity and success are ultimately linked to the internet, with how many likes and clicks something gets, writers and artists frequently learn to prioritize novelty and share-ability over true quality. 

For example, one Chilean artist, Carina Ubeda, has a new exhibit that involves her period. The artist has been using cloths instead of the typical female hygiene products for a while, because she has an allergy to other products. That’s understandable. What’s odd, though, is that she has been saving these cloths for the last five years, and recently decided to display them as part of an art exhibit.

She claims they are “art” for two basic reasons:

  1. All the shapes of blood stains are “abstract” images.
  2. Her exhibit symbolizes her lack of shame about her womanhood. It is a celebration of life. Or, as one commenter on the exhibit put it, “Male blood is celebrated for being brave while ours is a shame. This won't change until we release our body as the first stage of political struggle, repression and male power of centuries.”

Are these justifications? I don’t know. I’m not disgusted by dried blood, and I understand the artist’s mission. Especially in some parts of the world, women are taught that their menstrual period is disgusting and shameful. I just don’t know if I’d qualify what she’s done as art. The cloths are merely stuck on hoops and hung from a ceiling. It’s certainly a brave act, but is it an artful one?

Just because something has a message, it doesn’t make it art. Maybe if she had manipulated them in some way, or included them in a painting, I’d be less inclined to be judgmental. Instead, I feel that what she has done is at best a political statement, or at worst a novel way to “go viral.”

Via Daily Mail

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