CW: fake blood.
First blood is a performance piece and furniture object which explores the idea that there is a process of identity erasure (and imposition) that occurs when a person experiences their first period.
(Above is a journal entry that highlights the inspiration for the chair)
THE CHILD BEFORE THE STAIN
The chair (pre-stain) is a minimalist, bleached ash, square-stock chair - ghostly and pure. The grain of the wood, once wild and vibrant is subdued but still visible after bleaching. The light grain pattern is supposed to symbolize the complex personality of the individual that is about to go through a life-changing experience. Subtle enough that after the stain emerges, the grain seems to fade into the background because of the extreme contrast created by the red on white - drawing the eyes in.
CHILD UNSEXED TO WOMAN
The subtle shaping on the square stock chair gives the impression that the chair is "tiptoeing" and "delicate" techniques that have been traditionally used by furniture designers and craftsmen to denote a "feminine" quality. The feminine aspects in contrast with the initial reading of the minimalist "masculine" square chair allows the chair form to sit in the ambiguous middle ground, speaking to the fact that before someone experiences their period they are in many ways sexless to society. Once the chair is stained there is no question of the sex or gender of the chair, no notice of the subtleties in the wood, it is so clearly "a chair about menstruation" and stays one forever.
The chair was designed to stain itself after the first seating. It's important for the viewer to understand that the "blood" came from within the chair and not from the seater.
We watch as the blood appears to emerge like magic and we are helpless to stop the process. The chair remains forever stained, fixed in the moment it changed forever - just as we remain "women" in the eyes of society. It is an irreversible change.
Photography by John Shen
If you want to know more about the development and theory behind First Blood please read through this paper.