It’s not every day that you get a bunch of strangers to touch lots of different nipples, well ok, copies of nipples. Keep reading for some experiences from the breast themed art exhibition I participated in.
Massive amounts of visitors flocked this art exhibition that was only open for one night. There was a wide variety of beautiful pieces, from photos, to oil paintings, sculptures, and live performers but I think my work was one of the only touchable pieces people could actually interact with.
Large signs everywhere focusing on consent and not touching or photographing art or models without asking first definitely helped make the space very safe but I had to improvise a little “touch me!” note to facilitate people touching the piece. Even then many people seemed very skeptical and even somewhat intimidated to touch the nipples but once they did most their faces turned into delightful smiles and some even produced little squeals of surprise. Made out of body safe silicon using casts of real peoples’ nipples produced a pretty realistic sensation. A lot of people asked if the nipples were male or female and it was great to be able to tell them that they were nipples from people from all across the gender spectrum and point them to my contributor list which included preferred pronouns and to the little black book which held photos, names and pronouns of the contributors.
I also managed to raise a few bucks for Lambda legal, an NGO fighting for legal rights of transgenders by selling individual nipples and even gluing them onto various body parts. The most meaningful moment for me in those interactions was encountering a woman who went through a double vasectomy and didn’t have any Nipples. She chose two purple nipples that glow in uv light and it felt like she was injecting some joy and playfulness into painful memories. I wasn’t the only one using art to try to raise awareness to important issues; there was an exhibition that was raising money for cancer research by selling unique pillows.
The instructions for the event included a reminder that “all breast-wielding mammals” were to cover their nipples according to some law regarding places that sell alcoholic beverages. This is exactly the type of ridiculous laws that motivated me to create this art piece. I followed this law by sticking a yellow glowing pasty of my own nipple onto my real nipple. My attempts to glue Shlomo’s tiny nipple onto mine and create a totally flat chest didn’t work out as well and the left side of my body looked as if I had fallen into an acid vat. It was quite chilly anyway so I wore a jacket letting my glowing right nipple make an occasional appearances.
Interacting with some of the other artists around me was really fun and there was a very good vibe both from the artists and the crowd. I got a lot of compliments about the originality of the piece and a lot of technical questions about how it was made. The prices for most of the original art work seems very high to me but I really don’t know anything about the art world. Shlomo suggested the unique price tag I asked for and it definitely got a bunch of giggles. Finally the ride home, using a ride share app, was extremely entertaining as I explained the art work to the driver and exposed him to gender issues he hadn’t thought of before in a fun interactive way and even left him a nipple he stuck on to his dash board. I hope some of the viewers in the show had the same experience and I hope this type of exhibition can help change some of the conservative memes about breasts and gender.