“Just Blood” or how to use art to stop taboos – An interview with Isa

Isa is a 26 year old chaotic person who loves to embroider.  She’s been doing an embroidery project called “Just Blood”. The embroidery work shows a filigrane outline of womens torso with an eyecatching splash of period blood (aquarell paint). The message is: stop the taboo. Even though amazing artists and strong as fuck feminists have been fighting for periods to be normal – often  they are still concidered disgustig & dommed to be a secret. 

Isa is trying to be part of the period positive movement, doing period embroidery to spark a conversation. She loves art that is unconfortable & even tought Isa wouldn’t consider herself an artist, she thinks that craftivism is a great way to take part in what’s happening in the world.

Kaltblut: HI Isa, How did you come to start this project “Just Blood”?
Isa: A few months back I drew a random picture of a torso with a period theme going on. It was hanging over my workspace and one of my friends was just so irritated and offended when she saw it. We eventually started talking about periods, why she felt so offended by the drawing and how this whole topic is still a huge taboo. By that time I was also deep into embroidery so I mixed the period theme with embroidery as the medium. And it more or less developed around that since a few months.

Kaltblut: What is the message you want to get across to viewers of your work? And why is it important to spread this news?
Isa:The project focuses on periods and the female* body. The message right there is really just to „end the taboo on periods“ – you know, to realize and accept that periods are normal as fuck and roughly half of the population is bleeding at some point of the month. While I decided to focus on periods, it’s really a relatively wide range of feminist approach. Accepting periods as the totally normal thing they are can be symtomathic for an open and understanding society. I mean what sais it about a society that is so afraid of menstruation that people are offended by even talking about it or that taxes tampons as luxury products?  It’s important to be open about our bodies, about periods and feel comfortable. If for you comfortable means not talking about your period that is totaly fine of course. But whoever wants to talk about is, maybe has questions or just wants to share with likeminded people should not be judged. I think it is a social constructed, menstruation is extremly mystified. And it is especially important for young people that we are open about it – so they can be open with their questions, feel comfortable with their own bodies and get a realistic education.

Kaltblut: Have you found that your work has been responded to in a positive way? What has been the best reaction that you’ve received so far?
Isa: I think the best reaction for me personally really was my super offended friend starting to talk opelny about period problems and how it really feels good to talk about it.
But in general, it has been really positive. I was at a local market the other day and I had a lot of very interesting encounters about the embroidery – and periods and inclusve feminism and body positivity. A few weeks ago I did an interview with a US based magazine and it was just amazing for me to realize there are people – all over the world aparently – who think it’s an important topic. There have been – and still are – some amazing artists and activists tackeling the stigma of periods and I think it’s a very important process.
Of course there are also a lot of people who don’t like the project at all but then again – if that would be different the project would be somewhat irrelevant.

Kaltblut: Can you tell us a bit more about the period positive movement?
Isa: I’d say it is people getting into action, campaigns about menstrual education, funding to provide everybody with products (tampons, the cup, pads), artists with a variety of approaches to the topic… It basically comes down to shame-free and accessible menstruation & care. Everything that has to do with it: education, dialougue, alternative products, pain and how periods are as different as people so we all have different experiences yet also share the experience. I also feel like it is very important for the movement going on to be inclusive and intersectional. Cass Clemmer for instance really pissed people of with the #BleedingWhileTrans photo that says periods are not just for women – and I think that just shows how little about menstruations seems to be common knowledge. The saying „not all who bleed are women and not all women bleed“ (I am not sure who the author of that quote is) describes it very good I think.

In clonclusion: Periods already suck enough – they really should not be made worse by tabooing them.

Kaltblut: What is about embroidery you like so much? and how did you came to learn it?
Isa: I’ve always been kind of crafty I would say. You know – scrapbooking, bullet journaling, occasionally trying to sew stuff… I used to embroider way back in the day as a kid but I more or less forgot about it until this past Christmas I think. I was writing a long and research paper and I just felt so stuck in my head – I just needed to do something with my hands.
I saw this amazing embroidery piece by @hanectote – it’s this this famous „meme“ (as the kids call it today) from this kids show character Arthur and it’s cringed around needle and thread and it reads „When you remember that historically, embroidery hasn’t been taken seriously as a medium because it’s women’s work.“ And I just thought „yes. Embroidery. I want to do that again“.
So I went out to a small fabric shop and just got everything I needed to embroider.
And I have not been stoping ever since. It really is kind of therapeutic for me I’d say. Takes my mind off of things and allows you to create even when it’s hard to get out of your apartment sometimes.

And really, it is fucking amazing to see what some people are able to do with thread and needle. I mean really fucking great work out there!

Kaltblut: Can we buy your pieces?
Isa: I started selling at local markets – Which is amazing and I love it. Come find me at the Wedding Christmas market – December 17th at Leopoldplatz in Berlin. I might open up an etsy store at some point – so yes please check that out in the future!  For right now, the finished hoops are taking over my apartment and I also love to give them to friends.

KALTBLUT: Have you found any other work/artists to be really inspiring currently?
Isa: My favorite right now is „Needle Porn“ by Zach Nutman. Zach literally embroiders pornographic images and I find that amazing!

Instagram: @CraftsAndCramps

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