project image
Rachel Rampleman

first performed on October 3, 2019
Pfizer Building, Satellite Art Fair NYC Performance is Alive, Brooklyn, NY
performed once in 2019


Queens, NY


“Prisoners of the Strange Organ That Dwells Within Them” is a wandering, durational performance in which I drag a uterus-shaped sculpture on the floor from my crotch, while blindfolded in a public space. The title of the performance is an adaptation of a quote by Michelle Perrot from A History of Women in the West: Renaissance and Enlightenment Paradoxes.

In this performance I made the invisible visible, and the private public, embodying and visualizing the pain and symptoms of reproductive health issues that are often pathologized or ignored. The labored act of pulling the uterus outside of my body emphasizes the weight and stress of these varied issues that often go unseen. The men’s tie blindfold implicates the patriarchy for the detrimental lack of informed, safe, and effective reproductive healthcare and education. By blindfolding myself in a public space, I endangered my physical body and forced viewers to ensure the safety of my person and my uterus.

At the beginning of the hour-long performance I could hear viewers expressing concern and empathy, but as the performance progressed I noticed people were less willing to move out of my way and their attention was elsewhere. Even blindfolded, I felt the moment that everyone adjusted to me being part of the space, perfectly mirroring society’s lack of care for reproductive health issues at large.

In this performance I thought about my own experiences navigating my reproductive health and the pain that I feel from having polycystic ovaries. I thought about how in the US we only have one type of non-hormonal IUD and in the UK they have several. I thought about how 90% of hysterectomies performed today in the US are unnecessary. I thought about the Missing Wombs scandal in rural India where doctors are rampantly performing unnecessary hysterectomies, forcing individuals into debt and slavery. I thought about the patients in the documentary The Bleeding Edge (2018) whose robot-assisted hysterectomies left them with their intestines falling out to their knees. I thought about the history of hysteria and the neglect and gaslighting that continues to haunt reproductive healthcare today.

Society places immense value on fertility, but does not treat the uterus as a valuable and vital organ. The patriarchy we live in does not care about reproductive healthcare. If the concern is really about saving lives, why do we not protect and care for the organ that comes from?