DIY: 2014 – Nicola Canavan ‘Raising the Skirt’

‘La mar es posa bona si veu el cony d’una dona’

– constructing a community of courageous and fearless women to join me in the act of ‘Raising the Skirt’ and reclaiming our cunts.

Project summary:
‘La mar es posa bona si veu el cony d’una dona’, is a Catalan belief in the vagina, translated as ‘the sea calms down if it sees a woman’s cunt’.

The gesture of lifting the skirt has been translated across the world. It is known as Anasyrma or Ana-Suromai (Ancient Greek), Anlu (Kom Communities) and many others. A flash of the cunt has been known to calm other forces of nature too, in Madras (India) women were known to subdue storms by exposing themselves. In other folklore Women could drive away the devils, evil spirits and warriors as seen in Fontaine’s ‘Nouveaux Contes’, all through the power and beauty of their cunts. It is this action that I am proposing for DIY 11. ‘Raising the Skirt’ has influenced my practice for many years; by questioning notions of beauty and the status of women socially and culturally across many religions, and how this affects how the female body is translated across mass media; I feel it would be an important step back to go forward, to reclaiming the cunt as a powerful tool in assertion.

For this project I am interested in bringing together a group of women who can who can bring strength to the circle to form an Anasyrma Army – those with interesting anecdotes, information and threads. This dialogue and unity will form the foundations of the action, which we will carry out together as a performance to camera and a public action.

Dates, times and location(s):
Newcastle, Thursday 28 to Saturday 30 of August.

Application procedure:
This workshop is open to people of any background who wish to (re)claim the(ir) cunt. I will be particularly interested in hearing from women who are interested in sharing information, experiences, documentation or artwork on: The History of – Raising the Skirt/The Feminine Body/The Feminist Body/The Political Body/The Spiritual Body/The Social Body/Menstruation/The Cunt and anything you feel is related. This is a fairly broad spectrum however I see the event as being more than a workshop, but the beginning of a network of empowered artists and makers. We will be a group of courageous and fearless Women taking a stand to regain the control of our bodies and the way it is represented, idolized and documented.

As an applicant, you must wish to participate in the creation of a photographic art piece and a performance where we will raise our skirts, proudly presenting ourselves to the world; you will be part of something special – a community, a piece of photographic artwork and a live documented performance.

Please send a CV, including website links and a covering letter stating why you would like to attend this workshop and how you see this experience being relevant to the development of your practice and character by email to Nicola Canavan cc'ing Aaron Wright. The workshop will be taking place in Newcastle upon Tyne and Northumberland.

The workshop is free but participants are requested to contribute £25 for food and travel. If you are coming from anywhere other than the locality and need accommodation we will provide information on this when your attendance has been confirmed.

Thank you very much for your interest in this project and I very much look forward to hearing from each and every one of you.

Deadline, noon, Monday July 21st.

The artist:
Nicola Canavan's practice is rooted in action based performance and spans live work, documentations of its products & traces and the re presentation of these in other forms. She questions notions of beauty, pain and expectation through a poetry, which transforms brutal acts into tender and generous anecdotes of allegiance. 

By acknowledging and resisting the sacred and divine, Canavan installs layers of symbol through the modification and manipulation of the flesh, and pursues rituals that transcend the body. She thrives on the richness and allure of visual language, using performance and interactions to reflect on experience, using living marks from her skin to draw longer, deeper and more profound images haunted by a body once known.

There is an inherent contradiction between the physical demands Canavan places upon her body and the stillness that is matched by the slow passage of time.  

Born in North East England (UK), Nicola Canavan has been performing and showing work nationally and internationally since 2007 within programmes such as Momentum Festival (Brussels), ]performance s p a c e[ (London), Inbetween Time Festival (Bristol), City of Women (Ljubljana) and SPILL National Platform (Ipswitch). She has collaborated with Photographer Predrag Pajdic, Photographer & Film Maker Manuel Vason, artists Kris Canavan (Husband) and Ernst Fischer and has recently been awarded the Artsadmin Bursary and the Artists International Development Fund from Arts Council England and the British Council.

Nicola Canavan

This project is part of DIY 11: 2014.

Banner image credit:

Jean de La Fontaine’s ‘Nouveaux Contes’ (1674)

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Part of DIY: 2014

Unusual professional development projects conceived and run BY artists FOR artists

DIY: 2014


Unusual professional development projects conceived and run BY artists FOR artists

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