100. Another art.

Today was to be my last post. Number 100. I don’t usually plan my posts. I just go where the mood takes me on any given day, but today was going to be different. I have been thinking about it for a while. It was going to be a simple thank you to the people who have so kindly indulged me in my folly. But no more. I’ve been ambushed. Derailed. Kiboshed. By a vagina. An enormous, screaming, laughing vagina.

Due to the sensitive nature of today's topic, no relevant pictures can be posted. So here's a picture of Donald Trump's hair rising up to strike down his enemies.

Due to the sensitive nature of today’s topic, no relevant pictures can be posted. So here’s a picture of Donald Trump’s hair rising up to strike down his enemies.

When I opened up the news this morning, to make sure that the world had yet again not come to an end, one particular headline stood out; “Walk-in vagina installed at old jail”. Right. But that wasn’t all. News like this warrants a little elaboration; “A screaming, laughing vaginal canal has been installed at the old Women’ Jail in Hillbrow, Johannesburg”. Of course it has. We’ve been waiting for one for years.

It is, of course, an Art. More than that, it is a Very Important Art. You can tell, because it’s located in the Women’s Prison and has vaginas in it. Since, on the strength of two posts on an obscure personal blog, I am now a highly respected international art critic, I cannot simply ignore this. Particularly not if it’s going to be screaming and laughing at me.

Here's a picture of Justin Bieber adopting the little-known "attacking monkey" stance used to prevent adult diaper slippage.

Here’s a picture of Justin Bieber adopting the little-known “attacking monkey” stance used to prevent adult diaper slippage.

I have not actually seen the work, but the best sort of art critics don’t let minor details like this stand in their way, and besides, I have seen it described. It is made of red velvet and cotton and occupies a twelve metre long walkway. But that’s the dull description. The artist herself, one Reshma Chhiba, says it better; “By creating this vagina which you walk into, it contains you as the viewer, but also screams and laughs, almost like a battle cry, revolting against the prison”. Yes. It certainly does sound like it’s revolting.

The enormous screaming vagina has been linked by the artist with the Hindu goddess Kali, but the good Ms Chhiba does not want to be pinned down. “It is” she stated, without even a hint of a smile, “a global vagina”.

Here's a picture of Chris Brown fending off an attack by trouser-mongooses.

Here’s a picture of Chris Brown fending off an attack by trouser-mongooses.

I object. Not because it’s a vagina. We live in the age of the internet. Vaginas are not scary anymore. The sort of people who feel it is their duty to be offended by huge laughing vaginas will no doubt come out and express their outrage, but that sort of thing lacks conviction these days. The western world has been flooded by a tidal-wave of vaginas. We’re not frightened by the vagina as a symbol anymore.

And not because I don’t see the validity of the message, either. We might not be frightened of vaginas anymore, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t frightened by women. In South Africa at least, we still live in a hugely patriarchal society, where the rights and freedoms of women are seen as being a lesser thing, a bit of an indulgence to keep the gals happy while the men get on with the important stuff. Ideas or people that challenge that status quo are scary.

Here's a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker being sucked into an inter-galactic wormhole. Again.

Here’s a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker being sucked into an inter-galactic wormhole. Again.

No. I object because it’s about as subtle as a kick in the groin. The whole damn thing is so damn obvious that it’s patronising. I don’t have a problem with good art that challenges ones preconceptions and makes one think. Thinking, however, is not on the menu here. It’s a VAGINA! In WOMEN’S PRISON. And it’s SCREAMING AND LAUGHING. Get it? If you don’t, the artist is more than happy to explain it to you.

That’s the thing about subtlety. Two kinds of people are going to be seeing this. There will be the ones who already get the message, who are perfectly aware that women are still undervalued and denied real equality, no matter what the official party line may be. The ones who get that there are still untold millions out there who are intimidated by women’s freedom and women’s sexuality.

Here's a picture of Miley  Cyrus calling "the ghetto" to find out when the rest of her outfit will be delivered.

Here’s a picture of Miley Cyrus calling “the ghetto” to find out when the rest of her outfit will be delivered.

Then there will be the other ones. The ones who will be spluttering with feigned outrage, because vaginas, or poking each other in the ribs and saying “Check it out dude! It’s an enormous screaming vagina!” and having a bit of a giggle before opening another beer and going back to analysing last Saturday’s game.

Nobody’s ideas or prejudices are being challenged here.

If you really want to challenge people’s ideas and prejudices, you have to sneak your point past their defences. You have to plant the seeds of radical ideas without triggering their inbred responses. You need to set to work with a fine tipped brush, not a sledgehammer. Or a twelve metre long screaming vagina.

Here is a picture of Hugh Jackman having a nervous breakdown after years of torment at the hands of invisible ninjas.

Here is a picture of Hugh Jackman having a nervous breakdown after years of torment at the hands of invisible ninjas.

Twelve metre long screaming vaginas don’t make people think. They don’t make people quietly examine their own prejudices and slowly start inching towards real change. Twelve metre long screaming vaginas make people laugh. Twelve metre long screaming vaginas make anonymous bloggers post facetious articles on the internet.

I won’t be taking the family through to check out the twelve metre long screaming vagina this weekend. We are fairly liberal about the whole parenting thing, and try to explain everything clearly and simply to our kids. At least Mrs 23thorns is. I am fairly liberal about telling the kids to go and ask their mother. But as liberal as we may be, the prospect of explaining a global, twelve metre long, screaming, velvet-lined walk-in vagina to a four-year-old is a little daunting.

Here's a picture of George W imitating a ship's horn in response to a question about foreign policy.

Here’s a picture of George W imitating a ship’s horn in response to a question about foreign policy.

And that’s not all. The exhibition is in Hillbrow, one of Jo’burgs most notorious slums. I’d be happy to go along myself, but it just isn’t safe for women.

And, since violence is perfectly acceptable, here's a picture of a typical New Year's Eve celebration in Hillbrow.

And, since violence is perfectly acceptable, here’s a picture of a typical New Year’s Eve celebration in Hillbrow.

67 thoughts on “100. Another art.

  1. narf77 says:

    Narf7 arrives at the final gate to discover that she missed the plane. The fanfare is over and done with, the main attraction is long gone and all that remains is for me to stand wistfully amongst the scattered confetti and tickertape. I had promised myself that this blog deserved at least 1 person to comment on each and every post. I was going to keep going till the end. I did keep going till the end but life got in the way and my end appears to have been railroaded. Sorry Mr23 Thorns. It would seem “Creative thinking and writing” was too much for me and I missed the boat. I hope you had an amazing last post. I hope they played the last post. I hope that all of your dreams, visions and hopes were realised as you raced across that finish line surrounded by your amazing eclectic family and your dear constant blog followers into the bright sunshine of possibilities that not having to produce a post a day will bring. I even forgive you for the vulgarity of vagina’s in today’s post…desperation breeds the need to elevate bodily functions to the fore. I have seen enough horror movies to know that whenever people get terrified they either have sex to relieve the stress or perform some other bodily function. I know that if I were to see a werewolf coming at me full force that at least 2 bodily functions would be active and most splendidly represented en mass.

    I thought that George W Bush WAS an enormous screaming vagina Mr23 Thorns? Anyhoo…if you are currently finding yourself bored with the sheer unmitigated amount of spare time that not having to blog has given you…if you are sitting back twiddling your thumbs and thinking about introducing U.K. carp into African waterways to see how they cope with the native wildlife, then think no more Mr23 Thorns! Narf7 is here! In the very last of the 100 posts that you have rattled off with alarming irregularity, I give you a gift. One is supposed to give someone who has just passed a milestone (like a gallstone only more liberating) a gift methinks…what would a man who has everything need? I thought long and hard and decided to give you a priceless gift. Your words are wonderful Mr23 Thorns. You have learned to place them well. They run into each other in delightful rivulets and they are most pleasing to both the mind and the soul. As someone who truly appreciates a good wordsmith I give you http://www.wordle.net/ . Take this final post. Copy and paste it into wordle and then pick which wonderful customised Word cloud you like, print it out and place it inside a frame and under glass. You can then put it on your wall right next to your velvet picture of that Chinese lady or your Hobbytex puffy Elvis your mum did in the 70’s. Wordle not only gives you a masterful piece of artwork to display, it also elevates your most commonly used words. The most used…the bigger they become. I am just guessing but your very last post…numero 100…is going to be able to be used by future 23 Thorns as a “birds and bees” sampler for many years to come.

    So long Mr 23Thorns…so long…and thanks for all the fish 🙂

  2. artourway says:

    Thanks for the tips. Lovely knowing you 23thorns

  3. You’re really quitting because of a round number (and such a small one)?

  4. What a great post to finish your 100 on 🙂
    It made my day to learn that fathers will still, in this day and age, send their offspring to ‘ask Mum’ – that was my own dad’s favourite expression when we were all children – but with 7 of us, I guess you couldn’t blame him – though mum did! Lol

    • 23thorns says:

      The only other option is creative lying; telling your children that it is raining because they made god cry, or that thunder is the sound of rock-trolls piling furniture up under the house to make it easier for them to climb up.
      This is a far more entertaining thing to do, but then Mrs 23thorns won’t let me into the house.

  5. mariekeates says:

    Love it! What a pity it is the last of the 100. By the way, you do t think the ‘piece of art’ in question might have a more sinister explanation do you? They could be trying to smuggle some of those women prisoners out in it…

  6. You are my blogging hero.

  7. liz2you says:

    Loved each original topic and how they flow, and flow, and flow; but hey, sorry; they flow and they flow too long, and I cannot stop!
    So who else’s stuff can I read, when life is calling!! Good! Liz

  8. albertine says:

    Please can we have a summary? How many people visited? How many beers were you bought? How many people successfully guessed the price of a beer in your bit of South Africa? (Here in the UK the price varies ludicrously – so I did a ‘best guess’ and rounded it. Then Paypal converted it into some other currency before it reached you, I hope in appropriate form.)
    Why am I obsessing about beer? Do you know a play called ‘The Vagina Monologues’ – very popular with the innocent students I teach. It shocked me but not them. Heigh ho. In yesterday’s ‘Independent’ magazine a columnist wrote a dialogue between herself and – guess who? – her vagina. A stroppy character with lots of attitude. (Watch out for the puns now – the world is really opening up to this idea. Worse than finding Freudian phalli in all those patriotic flagpoles.)

    • 23thorns says:

      Yep. The “Vagina Monologues” has come and gone out here. Like I was saying, there’s so much of this sort of thing around these days that the vagina has lost its potency as a symbol.
      A short update is on its way.

  9. holmesr64 says:

    Love most of your posts- thank you. However, this one was disappointing. Middle class white people (including at least some of your commenters here) saying a huge vagina is not subtle enough? And next week you will all rail against the next abstract artwork that it’s TOO subtle, too obscure.
    Repeat after me: “I don’t know what art is, but I know what I like.”
    It made front page news, so it’s going to get people’s attention, and make them think. Good artists know that they can’t control WHAT people think- that’s up to them. But what better to make the masses (upper, middle, lower) think, jolt them out of their assumptions, than a huge vag?

    • 23thorns says:

      Surely the very definition of a good artist is precisely the fact that they have some measure of influence over what thoughts their work provokes. You can’t step out of your door every day and blast both barrels of a shotgun up into the sky at random and then tell everyone you’re a hunter because you happened to hit a duck one day.

      • holmesr64 says:

        I understand what you’re saying but a bad and/or arrogant artist might think she/he can tell people what to think, and some gullible or easily led ones will swallow it whole. But most people aren’t so easily told what to think- thank goodness- and in my opinion (I’m no expert) great artists accept this, for better or worse. Maybe a greater, more achievable goal is ‘simply’ to get people to think, to consider, to provoke.

  10. Spy Garden says:

    Woo good job! You should take the 100 and spiff them up and send them off to PJ O’Rourke or Dave Barry or the Miami Herald or some publishing place (sort of seems like a lot of effort, when “blogging is hard” enough as it is!) So drink a beer (but I’m not donating on your paypal account to pay for it ajajha). Way to go! Always hilarious hahahahahhha

  11. That’s 100 days already? Oh. 😦

  12. Jim Morrison says:

    I can’t like your posts. I’ve tried, but every time something goes wrong in the ‘verse and my like clicks don’t work. Ever. So let me say here, congratulations. I was wondering what you had planned for post #100 and I found out it was serendipitous, a chance event eliciting a commentary. Brilliant! Now, I happen to think that a 12 ft. screaming laughing vagina is entirely appropriate, in fact it is needed. I’ve tried subtlety myself. It just doesn’t seem to work. Sometimes you just have to pick up that 2×4 and hit them over the head just to get their attention. So I applaud you and the artist, and will now proceed to buy you a beer. Cheers from Vancouver Island, Jim.

  13. Lyn says:

    My first thought was, “Some people will do anything for publicity.” Not meaning you friend 23Thorns, but the artiste.
    This may be post #100, and the end of an era, but please don’t stay away too long. We are, I am sure, all going to leave the front porch light on. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your daily posts, and would look forward to and be satisfied with a weekly post.
    A weekly post would give you time to do other important things like making more furniture, going to school concerts (which you haven’t told us about yet), sipping wine with Mrs23Thorns, (which you have told us about but are happy to hear more). Thank you for all your wonderful posts. I’m hoping that ‘the best is yet to come.’

  14. Mary Southon says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your posts and sincerely hope you’ll be back again soon. You make me laugh and cry, but most of all, think.

    (As for the 12 meter screaming vagina, did the article say how old the artist is? It sounds like a college freshman project.)

  15. ksbeth says:

    hilarious and i enjoyed it all )

  16. menomama3 says:

    You’ll be back. There are so many other bits of human anatomy to uncover. So to speak. Bravo again, Mr. 23Thorns.

  17. moirads says:

    Please don’t stop blogging.

  18. Ashana M says:

    I was getting used to the lowveld posts, and here you go and get all deep and thoughtful on us. Full of surprises, aren’t you?

  19. Thanks, NOT! For years I have been dealing with a serious phobia of giant clams, and now you have given me an even more fear-inducing image. I will not sleep well tonight, to be sure…

  20. sisteranan says:

    Why 12′?
    Why 100?

  21. kelloggs77 says:

    This post is more brilliant than a large screaming vagina. Favorite lines: “Of course it has. We’ve been waiting for one for years.”

  22. One goal met. Hope you will set another so I can continue to read your provocative, interesting, informative, articulate, imaginative, humorous blog.

  23. Susan M says:

    Mr. 23Thorns, I have also enjoyed your 100 posts in 100 days, and I hope you will keep posting! With regard to the vagina art piece, I’ve seen a vagina hand puppet and it was really cute. I’ve also seen (in a book) Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party”, which is a series of place settings, each with a dinner plate for a specific woman in history, each plate designed to look more or less like a vagina. I enjoyed that too. I would probably walk through the great big huge vagina you’ve mentioned, but I’m not sure I would enjoy it. And here’s some more, ahem, food for thought: many “monsters” look a lot like vaginas.

    • 23thorns says:

      I will do the odd post. Now that I’ve got a taste for t, I don’t think I’d ever be able to walk past a 12 metre screaming vagina without having my say.

  24. johnjroberts says:

    Congratulations!! Enjoyed all 100 thoroughly, Will miss your daily witticisms. I’m going to keep Following in anticipation of further odd observations of the natural world and biting social commentary. (Hmm, Sounds like a blurb for a back cover,)

  25. Jocelyn Hers says:

    Oh, your illustrations! They’re bad for my ribs.
    But your main point is so true. Twelve foot screaming vaginas don’t make people think. They make people say “Oh, for Heavens sake.. ” or nudge nudge, wink wink, or “All modern art is incomprehensible rubbish”, mostly the last. If you want people to think, you have to tailor your communication to the people you’re talking to, and take them seriously. Just shouting doesn’t work.

  26. KokkieH says:

    The one women’s res at my college did something similar for rag week in my first year. It didn’t scream. Or laugh. It did make the faculty members who had to judge the residences think very deeply about the type of students we had at our college.

    The phrase, “walk-in vagina” made me think of an article I read this weekend about drive-in sex booths in Zurich, Switzerland. But those aren’t art. Just business.

  27. What a post to finish on. I can only hope we can entice you back, albeit infrequently. I too will gladly pass on even a report of the gigantic gobbling vagina, it gives me nightmares thinking about it – in a women’s prison. Nope, I must stop there.
    Ciao, Susan

  28. Marcia says:

    O.M.G. The world gets crazier and weirder every day. And a screaming, laughing vagina just proves that the inmates are, indeed, in charge of the asylum.

    Great post. Profound thoughts. Hilarious captions. (More of Hugh Jackman’s bare, soaking wet chest, please, without the Invisible Ninja face kicks.)

    And by “today was to be my last post,” you DID just mean your last of the 100 daily ones, right? Right??? Because I am just now beginning to find time to read my favorite blogs again, and I would be terribly disappointed to find yours gone! And by “terribly disappointed,” I mean that things worse than a laughing, screaming vagina could be headed your way. I’m just sayin’………..

  29. Martina Wald says:

    May I suggest another tiny goal: 1000 posts in 1000 days. I will happily read along.

  30. dalo2013 says:

    Enjoyed the ride of your 100 posts, hilarious and insightful. I look forward to the venture you take… Cheers!

  31. Sarah Rose says:

    I will miss your daily blogs, 12 metre screaming vaginas just won’t fill the gap. Keep writing please.

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