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An inside view into the day to day of conceptual artist Sophia Wallace

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Is it ‘really, really, really cissexist’ to make Art about the Clit?

In response to http://vicoactus.tumblr.com/post/42934010947/cliteracy

Dear Kennedy,

Thank you for your critique.

I appreciate your thoughts and respectfully disagree with some of your conclusions about CLITERACY.  

The clitoris and vulva are the subjects of CLITERACY.  It would be nearly impossible to demonstrate that the clitoris has not been assailed in myriad ways. This continues in the present day. Within this context, the project is ambitious in and of itself. Evidence of this fact is that CLITERACY has already been censored multiple times. I did not attempt to cover all the ground of my politics with regards to gender, race, sexuality and class with CLITERACY. The clitoris and the vulva were my focus. Is it, as you claim, cissexist and transmisogynist to create a project that focuses on the clitoris and the vulva? I find that argument troubling.

Some women have vulvas and clits and some don’t. CLITERACY is not demarcating who can claim which genitals. Rather, the project encourages viewers to talk about the clit, give props to the clit, identify in any way with the clit, call their genitals clits (including cis men) and so on. Personally, I also support people identifying with the phallus when that identification is not about destruction of the idea of the ‘feminine’, but that is not the focus of CLITERACY. It is hard to dispute that the phallus has gotten the vast majority of admiration historically. It is time to show the clit some love.

CLITERACY is not a representational project, nor does it aim to offer answers that are definitive or final. The last law of CLITERACY is, “There are more laws”. This law makes clear that the work is not closed and further invites viewers to write laws that centralize their experience in language that feels right for their bodies. CLITERACY is starting a conversation, I welcome you to intervene by making work that addresses what CLITERACY leaves out. 

The available vocabulary for bodies, sexuality and gender is frustratingly limited, narrow, outdated and flawed. CLITERACY aims to denaturalize some of the problematic language in regards to the clitoris and vulva. What are the words for genitals that you would like to see used for trans and cis bodies? As far as I can tell, there is no consensus. The current lexicon could use some improvement. What is the ‘correct’ language for bodies? Creating language is the responsibility of all of us and future generations. I don’t claim to have all the answers. I’m one person offering my small contributions– work by work– in a much larger discourse.

I look forward to your suggested laws and to seeing new works by artists that address our bodies in language and images that expand beyond the old problematic frames.

Thank you again for taking the time to respond to my project.

very best,


Tags cliteracy sophia wallace discourse critique gender clitoris transfeminine art