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Join the Penis Parade

June 6 - 13, 2019

Fitzrovia Gallery, London, UK

As the original authors of the 1972 Our Bodies, Ourselves wrote, “bodies are the physical bases from which we move out into the world.” Until women had the knowledge of, the connection to and the ownership of their bodies, they would be unequal to men. Self-examination has long been seen as the first step for radical action, but perhaps because the othering of the female form is so ubiquitous and patriarchal ideas so engrained in the culture, a male equivalent to this quest for self-knowledge has never emerged. The fact that “the package” was never unpacked has preserved this myth of male power while overlooking its vulnerability.

Join the Penis Parade unzips this taboo. It aims to open up a new conversation that celebrates  which is seldom seen in a positive context in modern Western art. The title of the show references the Kanamara Matsuri, also knowns as the Penis Festival, which takes place in Kawasaki, Japan. Every year on the first Sunday of April, giant enshrined penises can be seen parading down the streets. The origins of the festival can be traced back to the 17th century. Kawasaki’s Kanamara shrine has long been a place where couples would pray for fertility and marital harmony. The phallus is glorified and loved in this setting as a symbol of creation, rather than aggression or violation.

Celebrations of the phallus like Kanamara Matsuri or the ancient Greek Phallephoria played an important role in fracturing the sexual binary. These festivals viewed the penis outside the role of aggressor, attacker and penetrator to which it’s now relegated. In Join the Penis Parade, we hope that by freeing willy, we can also free ourselves.

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