Red Tide is a performance piece by Tamara Wyndham and is included as part of the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health. The actual performance took place on July 22, 1989 at the Kate Millett Art Colony, Poughkeepsie, NY.
The stage set was entirely white: white walls, a white sheet of paper on the wall, a small table with a white tablecloth. On the table was a white teapot and a white carton of white eggs, a metal egg beater and a clear glass bowl. I was dressed in a white T shirt and white drawstring pants.
I had memorized the following text, which is a combination of a childhood memory and a dream. As I spoke it, I made a charcoal drawing on the paper of what I was speaking about, starting with the ocean, then the clouds, the rain, the elephant, the golden disks and the hibiscus.
I performed this work on the heavy day of my period. I wore no underwear and no tampon nor napkin, so that I bled onto my pants as I performed.
When I finished speaking the text, I went outside and quickly took off my clothes, then re-entered naked, with my internal organs painted on the front of my torso. Without speaking, I took an egg from the carton and broke it into the bowl. Inside the eggshell was not egg, but my own menstrual blood. From the teapot I poured red hibiscus tea into the bowl with the blood. I whisked it together, and then drank it.
Contemporary art is weird.
You can read the entire text which she recited during the performance at the Museum of Menstruation and Women’s Health website. Wyndham loves her menstrual cycle, and has made these vulva prints painted with her own menstrual blood. She explains:
Many women have grown up with negative and shameful feelings about menstruation: that it is dirty, disgusting, and something that should not be discussed.
My approach is to affirm menstrual blood as sacred. The only time blood was shed without wounding. A powerful substance. It is filled with energy: the power of creation. Menstrual blood is the first pigment.
In Pagan cultures, a woman’s menstruation was considered a cosmic event, connected to the moon and its’ cycles and the tides. This could be a time for introspection; in many cultures, women would isolate themselves, the better to hear one’s inner voice.