This woman made 160 plaster cast vulvas that got turned into a game

After making the first vulva cast for herself, Gloria Dimmel has been manufacturing vulva replicas in Vienna, Austria, since 2017. She now has more than 160 vulvas in her apartment.

During these sessions, participants share their experiences and thoughts on social norms, sexuality, body image, gender roles, feminism and politics in a safe space.

They have been part of exhibitions and most recently, 18 of the vulva models were chosen for a taboo-breaking version of the world-famous memory game. This edition is called “Pussy Pairs”.

Part of the profits of Pussy Pairs will be donated to the organisation Safe Hands for Girls. The organisation fights FGM and child marriage in The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Atlanta, USA, fighting FGM and child marriage.

We asked Gloria what it’s like to create vulvas, why she started it and about that one time where people started stealing vulvas from her art show.

Gloria, how did you get the idea for this game?

It came about during talks with colleagues and friends, when we pondered about what to do with this huge collection of plaster cast vulvas lying around in my apartment. Pussy Pairs seemed like the perfect solution as the game concept is widely known and pretty basic – every kid can play and will probably outsmart every grown-up with their memory skills.

Why did you decide to combine your art with the "vulva" topic?

The art actually came together with the vulva topic as I started this particular project without any background in arts. I tried to do a vulva cast of myself, I just really wanted to see what it would look like from another perspective than the one I know. And I guess a lot of people feel the same.

What are you trying to achieve?

I’m trying to make the vulva visible and break taboos around the topic. I want to clear up myths about any kind of standardised vulva as vulvas come in different shapes and colours and none of those characteristics say anything about the frequency of sexual intercourse for example. Let’s just normalise genitals!

"I want to clear up myths about any kind of standardised vulvas. They come in different shapes and colours and none of those characteristics say anything about the frequency of sexual intercourse."

Tell us about the process of making the vulvas. How does it work?

First, you put alginate on to the (ideally shaven) vulva (good results are harder to get with long pubic hair). When the alginate stiffens, you get a mold that you fill up with plaster or silicone or any other kind of casting compound. When the latter dries, you’ll have a perfect replica of your vulva.

Your favourite reaction or comment someone gave to your art exhibition and game?

I can’t think of anything specific right now, but there is a lot of positive feedback, of sharing vulva related content and art, of womxn sharing their stories, of people, asking questions and simply talking about these taboos.

We read that at one of your exhibitions some of your vulvas got stolen. What happened exactly? Why do you think people stole them?

At one of my first exhibitions, which was at a huge location with a techno party going on as well, more than half of my exhibits were stolen. I guess, with the hours getting later and alcohol consumption rising, the inhibition threshold definitely decreased, and the partygoers just didn’t give a shit about the people behind the project whose vulva casts they stole and they just wanted a piece to grab, before they were all gone. Later on, some of the delinquents came forward and returned the stolen vulvas, feeling really guilty, but also complimenting my project and also admiring the vulvas. Some of them even made their own vulva cast in the end.

A percentage of the proceeds of each game sold will be donated. Can you give us more info about the donations?

We’re are still figuring out how much exactly we can donate, as we had unexpected delays and extra spending along the way, but we want to support the Gambian organisation Safe Hands for Girls which works in The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Atlanta, USA, fighting FGM and child marriage.

Tell us about your upcoming projects.

While I am trying to have the vulva casts exhibited more often, I am working on various collaborations, e.g. with the Viennese Museum of Contraception and Abortion, and holding sessions for people to cast their genitals, mostly in Vienna, but increasingly also abroad.

Where can people follow your work and stay updated?

I’m most active on Instagram @g.sus.christ, but there are also my websites gloriadimmel.com and pussypairs.com

Where can they buy the game?

Pussy Pairs will soon be available in various shops in Vienna and is already available on the publisher’s website, which is probably more relevant for non-Austrian people who want to spread the vulva massage.

 

Viva La Vulva! is all we’ve got left to say. Good luck, Gloria with your future projects and we can’t wait to play the game during our next team retreat.