Sinus pudoris / le voile de la honte / curtain of shame

2 – 27 Oct 1990

“I’ll begin with a mistranslation. From feminae sinus pudoris (Linnaeus, in 1758, describing the enlarged labia minora of certain black African women) to “women are without shame.” Is this due to careless mistranslation? Misspelling and wrong case endings common in eighteenth-century scientific latin? A racist and sexist interpretation? Does Stephen Jay Gould (“The Hottentot Venus”. 1985) correct the error by proposing “curtain of shame”, or does he add to this account of mistranslation? …The four components of this exhibition do not serve to illustrate sinus pudoris, they do range in emotion from uneasiness or embarrassment to a profound sense of shame. Originating in individual texts concentrating on one or more selected parts of a woman’s body, the work situates women behind their respective curtains of shame.