On the afternoon of Memorial Day, Corinne Singer ’15 converted the Bicentennial Sculpture outside of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library into an installation resembling a bloody tampon by draping it in a large red sheet. The artwork was a part of her Third-Wave Feminist Independent Project (IP).
“I created this piece not as a scathing criticism of or an attack on Andover but as something that would generate a positive and empowering experience for all those who menstruate. Through my work, I aim to bring about menstrual consciousness and reclaim menstruation as powerful, beautiful and worthy of celebration,” said Singer.
Titled “Raise the Red Flag,” the installation was initially inspired by Judy Chicago’s photograph “Red Flag,” which Singer encountered last term while researching possible topics for her in IP topic.
“I decided that I wanted to dedicate a few weeks in the beginning of the term to researching feminist art ‘herstory.’ Specifically, when researching the Second and Third waves [of feminism], I came across Chicago’s piece. I immediately recognized that the piece was so raw and crucial to understanding feminist art. I knew that I needed to base [my project] off of that,” said Singer.
Singer began installing her work on the statue at around 3 p.m., receiving help from a group of female, non-binary and trans people of color who menstruate. She gathered the group by emailing a broad network of students whom she felt would represent a diverse group of menstruating students who show similar passion in the subject areas of her project.
“Understanding menstruation not in terms of women, but in terms of anybody who menstruates, regardless of gender identity, was necessary for the piece to be representative of Third Wave menstrual activism,” said Singer.
Singer said that she received some backlash from students who believed that her installation existed solely within the context of Andover and not in a global context.
“People don’t necessarily see me as an artist. They see me more as a student who is doing ‘reckless things’ – a rebel without a cause. As such, it’s been really challenging to have conversations with people because they think that my work is about Andover. While I target oppressive systems that operate at Andover, those same systems operate on a global scale. Hence, my art could exist in any other place,” said Singer.
Singer also said that she received criticism for her work due to the unintentional timing of installing her final work on Memorial Day. She initially chose the day considering weather patterns and other related logistics but came across a connection between her work and the holiday later on.
“Many of the lives lost in warfare are those of people who menstruate, an act that is often shamed and policed in the patriarchal military-industrial complex,” wrote Singer in an email to The Phillipian.
Although Singer is glad to see conversations regarding her work arise in the Andover community, she views this phenomenon more as a product of her work and less of an attempted goal in her project.
“I intentionally designed the tampon’s structure to be fluid and unstable. I wanted the wind to cause the tampon to naturally fall away to reveal the patriarchal forces, represented by the phallic statue, at the very core of the menstrual ‘care’ industry. This industry… is responsible for the disturbing use of menstruators’ bodies to create profit, the [toxic shock syndrome] outbreak of the 80s and the policing of menstruators’ bodies to keep their menstrual blood private and contained,” said Singer.
Editor’s note: The term “herstory,” as used by Singer, connotes “A reclamation of female narratives that have been erased or ignored in larger historical contexts.”