Queen Mary University knows how to put the ‘fresh’ into freshers. As part of a welcome to new Drama students, their lecturer screened a graphic video of her (ahem) vagina, an act described by the show’s creator Lauren Barri-Holstein as “feminist performance art concerned with the female body.”
That’s easy for her to say. The shocked students were not so sure.
According to the national university student site The Tab, Barri-Holstein took the opportunity of treating her captive audience to a full tour of the biological wonders – and possibilities – of her lady parts.
Students who stayed through the entire show were given examples of their lecturer inserting a knife handle into her vagina and throwing tomatoes at the blade. There was a birth sequence that involved a plastic Bambi figurine and a condom blowing out of her vagina – all to a background of Happy by Leona Lewis and Poison by Nicole Scherzinger.
The Tab’s art critic Matt McDonald was impressed. Or not. Seems he is sitting firmly on the fence.
He said: “The trope of the female nude is as old as art itself. Barri-Holstein’s performance is the latest of many pieces which show us something about the genesis of humanity. In some ways, it’s a profound Madonna and Child work. In others, it’s a leftie with her rat out.”
A subdued response to be sure, because the video show continues as “Lauren urinates on stage, dangles naked and gyrating from a harness on the ceiling, and even simulates masturbating with a tampon, spraying what appears to be blood directly onto a fellow actress’s face,” according to The Tab.
One Drama student who sat through the entire show was less equivocal. She told the Tab: “It was surreal. I honestly didn’t know how to react. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look her in the eye in person, it’s just weird.
“It’s not even the fact we saw her lady parts, it’s the fact I literally have no idea how the clip was in any way related to this module. It was just so extreme and I don’t understand why it was in any way necessary.”
Not everyone was as taken aback however with yet another fresher taking a much more sympathetic approach.
They said: “I understand her credo is to actively gross out the audience and challenge us, which does actually make sense.
“She’s really passionate about exposing our socially engrained expectations, so I’m going to suspend my judgement and wait until I get to know her better as a teacher.”