MENSTRUATION MACHINE - TAKASHI'S TAKE (2010)
Installation with video (color, sound), screens, and printed panels, 3:24 min., dimensions variable;
Device: aluminum, electronics, and acrylic
13 3/8 x 13 13/16 x 13 3/8" (34 x 35 x 34 cm)
Courtesy the artist and Scai the Bathhouse, Tokyo.
It’s 2010, so why are humans still menstruating?
As a female artist I had one intriguing question I wanted to solve.
When the contraceptive pill first became commercially available in the 1960s, it was deliberately designed to have a pill-free, menstruating week every month. This was because the doctors felt that users would find having no periods too worrying and unacceptable. 50 years have passed since then, and modern technology has accomplished even more – space travel, mobile phones, internet, cloning and genetically modified foods – but women are still bleeding. New pills such as Lybrel and Seasonique, which reduce the frequency of menstruation to none or 4 times a year have recently been developed, but they are not yet widely used.
For example in Japan, it only took the Ministry of Health only 6 months to approve Viagra, but it took them more than 9 years to approve the contraceptive pill in 1999 (which was approved 3 months after the approval of Viagra). It is quite clear that the advancement of technology can be heavily influenced by political, social and cultural backgrounds of the time.
So what does Menstruation mean, biologically, culturally and historically, to humans? Who might choose to have it, and how might they have it? The Menstruation Machine – fitted with a blood dispensing mechanism and electrodes simulating the lower abdomen – simulates the pain and bleeding of a 5 day menstruation process.
The music video features a Japanese transvestite boy Takashi, who one day chooses to wear 'Menstruation' in an attempt to biologically dress up as a female, being unsatisfied by just aesthetically appearing female. He builds and wears the machine to fulfill his desire to understand what the period feels like for his female friends. The music video was posted on Youtube to trigger reaction from a wide audience outside of the traditional gallery environment. The video was immediately posted on influential blogs including Wired, Gizmodo and Boing Boing, and the story of Takashi’s desire to have menstruation created a viral frenzy of debates, resulting in 100000 Youtube hits in mere one week.
2011 'Talk to Me' Museum of Modern Art, New York
2010 'Tokyo Art Meeting Transformation', Contemporary Museum of Art, Tokyo
2011 [Nomination] Singapore Art Museum: APBF Signature Art Prize
2010 [Winner of Technology Category] Youtube Japan Video Award
Video Directed by Yasuhito Tsuge, Written by Sputniko!
Video Production: AUG5, Inc.
Music and Lyrics by Sputniko!
Sound Production: DJ Codomo
Director of Photography: Takahiro Motonami
Stylist: Shoko Sei
Fashion: galaxxxy, MANIAC WORKS , chimaniamu, Emma Lundgren, Amakiru, Grace Du Prez, Anna Schwamborn
Hair: Yuki Akagi
Make Up: Kanta Mukasa
Device Production: Naoki Kawamoto
Image Photography: Rai Royal
Set Design: Sam Frances
Make Up: Hiroe Tomikawa