Menstrual Cup Art Tackles Sustainability, Women's Rights
Moon cups are not widely used in Hong Kong, and an artist, Sze C., believes it has to do with a sense of taboo.
“When people look at it they go, ‘is it a flower? Or is it a condom?’” Hong Kong artist Chow Pui-sze says about her new exhibition of artworks. It’s unusual: Her art is made from silicone menstrual cups, also known as moon cups. She’s working to spread a twofold message—one of protecting the environment and the other of stopping violence against women.
Moon cups are not widely used in Hong Kong, and Chow, more commonly known as Sze C., believes it has to do with a sense of taboo surrounding feminine products, especially in Asia. “It was surprising, even though the menstrual cup has been in circulation for a few decades now, how not a lot of women knew about it,” she says.
“With some Asians they get really interested in it, they want to try it, but of course for them it’s kind of a big step. Most Asians are using pads, Westerners are mostly using tampons. So when they transition from tampons to this cup it’s more acceptable, the mindset is more easy,” Sze C. says.
Using medical-grade silicone, the menstrual cup is made to be washed and reused. It’s long-lasting and therefore environmentally friendly.
“I post a lot of information on pads and tampons and their marketing—they keep telling you how clean or how pure they are, but they’re actually full of chemicals. They’re so white because they bleach it. And as a woman, sometimes you have experiences with infections, it’s because you use those products,” Sze C. says.
When it comes to using menstrual cups instead of tampons, Sze C. adds, “It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. But at least I wanted people to get an idea that they had an alternative.”
Sze C. began to share her positive experience using the moon cup with others, but word of mouth only made a small impact. “I thought, maybe I could do it another way, through an exhibition with an art piece.”
With keen support for the women’s product, Sze C. wanted to express even more than a concern for the environment. She was inspired to launch her Eco Art Project after watching a TED talk by Eve Ensler, “The Vagina Monologues” playwright and founder of the global V-Day movement, which aims to end violence against women. The talk is displayed at the exhibition along with Sze C.’s artworks.
For the exhibition, she has created small sculpture works using the menstrual cups, which have a semblance to multicolored tulips.
Sze C. launched an IndieGoGo campaign to coincide with the exhibition opening on Valentine’s Day, hoping to gain wider support and donations that will allow her to expand the project to several countries next year.
She says she has plans to launch a new initiative: For every menstrual cup bought from her, one will also be donated to a girl in a developing country. Often, girls in these areas cannot attend school during their periods due to the lack of sanitary products available. They can suffer from emotional stress and embarrassment as a result.
Other plans of expansion for the Eco Art Project include the Asia region and Europe, where Sze C. plans to contact non-commercial galleries or biennales, which are more suited to exhibit her non-selling works. She also hopes to collaborate with another female artist at each of those countries. “It will be more interesting: if it were just myself there’s not much chemistry,” she says.
Sze C. has been creating works, exhibiting and holding charitable art exhibitions and live music events for the past 13 years in Hong Kong and Europe. She opened her own gallery space, Artouch, in 2014.