Leslie Labowitz, Menstruation Wait, 1971, 1972
Leslie Labowitz
Menstruation Wait

Up to 1972, Leslie Labowitz (USA) studied at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles, where "Menstruation Wait" was shown for the first time and almost led to her expulsion. She received a Fulbright Grant to study in Düsseldorf, where she performed "Menstruation Wait" again. Influenced by Joseph Beuys, she began to see art as a means of initiating social change; but also his shamanism appealed to her. Back in the USA she became involved in the Women’s House and met Suzanne Lacy. Their collaboration revolved around issues of violence against women, as can be seen in the piece In "Mourning and in Rage". Their collaboration continues to this day. She also developed "Sproutime", an ongoing art project and ecological business, crossing the boundaries between art and life. The question of how a process-oriented performance artist can support her art and also have a life led to an installation and performance in Franklin Furnace in 1981, in which she transplanted her backyard sprout growing business into an art context.

The performance presented here was part of a series performed by Leslie Labowitz in Germany during her stay as a Fulbright artist, mentored by Joseph Beuys. In this action about menstruation, Labowitz represented ‘all women’ by publicly confronting a social taboo and the shame and secrecy surrounding this uniquely female experience. Menstruation Wait took place in the public space. She familiarised the public with woman’s physiological condition while waiting for her period, and she openly expresses the physical and emotional effects felt during the wait.

Courtesy Leslie Labowitz