When Sydney artist Alli Sebastian Wolf created a giant, sparkly sculpture of the humble clitoris, she had a rather specific mission in mind: to raise awareness about the intricacies of female genitalia.
And once you see the sculpture, aptly named ‘The Glitoris’, it’s hard to look away. The 100:1 scale model of the clitoris, covered in gold sequins, is certainly eye grabbing, but more importantly it’s educational.
“It’s ridiculous how ill informed we all are about this incredible organ,” Alli says. “I was in my mid 20s before I found out what the clitoris looked like, and it’s only through researching this project I’m learning the intricacies of all the parts and how they function.”
Though the actual concept for the artwork had been in Alli’s head for a few years, she was waiting for the right time to debut it – and what better time than amongst the Women’s Marches taking place all over the world?
Alli was inspired by the queer and alternative performance communities that she’s part of, which she said definitely influenced the glamorous materials. Over the past few weeks, she worked over 17-19 hours a day for a lot of the process, but for her, this was a project of passion.
“I’m a real perfectionist, but it was one of those magic times when everything works, the ideas and problem solving flow easily, like she [The Glitoris] wanted to be made.”
The sci-fi shape of the clitoris also inspired Alli to involve performance artists, known as 'the Clitorati, dressed in 'space queen' style costumes.
While Alli is officially debuting the work in a gallery at an exhibition at The Bearded Tit pub in Sydney on Tuesday January 24, she brought it on stage at the Sydney Opera House over the weekend for US singer Amanda Palmer’s show.
"Of all the things that I've seen in the world lately that are trying to fight fascism, this might be one of the best!" Amanda Palmer said at the show.
Alli has been overwhelmed by the positive reactions to the sculpture, and was amazed that so many people wanted to interact with it.
“I never expected such a wave of love," she said. "And everyone wants to touch it, which is perfect. It’s made of soft tactile materials so you can give it a gentle stroke or a hug.”
But at the end of the day, she hopes that people just walk away taking something from this.
“I hope this helps people connect to their own and each other’s pleasure better – the clitoris is an amazing thing, and the more we understand it, the better the whole world will be.”
In the spirit of Alli's work, here are 5 things you probably didn't know about the humble clitoris:
- There are 8000 nerve endings in the tip of the clitoris alone, which is double the amount in a penis.
- It is the only known body part that has the sole purpose of pleasure - though evolutionary scientists are still unclear about why it adapted.
- It is the only part of the body that doesn't age - it will still function just as well at 80 as at 20.
- The clitoris grows with age - eg. At 32 years old, it's four times the size it was during puberty.
- The distance between the clitoris and the vaginal opening can affect how easy it is for a woman to achieve orgasm. The closer, the better!