Menstruation is perhaps the only biological phenomenon fraught with guilt and shame. What is only the sign of puberty, growth and good health is rendered to something that should be hidden. In several layers of plastic bags and newspapers, a part of our existence is conveniently swept under the carpet. But Romanian artist and graphic designer Timi Páll has found a way to bring our period blood back into popular conscience — by creating a full-fledged artwork out of it.
Páll spent nine months giving life to nine canvases painted with blood from used tampons, calling it ‘The Diary of my Period’. On a Facebook timeline filled with fantasy art, sketches of dogs and superheroes, the blotches of stark red stand out, demanding your attention. The nine-month duration is poignant, referring to the process of fertilisation of the egg and its eventual growth into a human baby. In Páll’s art, the ovum is consequential even when it is discarded every month. She describes the process as ‘the start of the end’.
The artist elaborates as to how she feels her artwork has a mission. Even if it is not able to breathe or feel, even if it is devoid of a physical identity, it aspires to reach out to a gamut of people irrespective of the colour of their skin, sexual orientation and religious views.
In the first month, she documents, “More than 50 shades of red, and the continuous transformation of it, reaching a fragile colour palette with that innocent attitude.” In the end, what comes to life is a baby, in its mother’s womb, empathising with your apparent discomfort of finding period blood so easily morphing into something so exquisite and tangible.
In 2015, art student Jess Cummin from Glasgow had used period blood in her paintings. One could hope that with more widespread representation in visual mediums like art, photography and the audiovisual, it would only result in the mainstreaming of period blood. It would no longer be an awkward messy patch on your school uniform, sweatpants or saree but an implication of reclaiming what has always been ours. Our bodies, and whatever the heck goes on inside of it.