Wandering bellubutton


The project refers to the myths about the wandering womb, because both the navel (the scar after the mother) and the uterus show the bodily aspect of motherhood: “the uterus, not thought out as the place of our first being, where we become a body”. The phobias relating to the female body, and above all to its fertility aspects, have led to the emergence of the myths about hysteria (in Greek, the womb means “hysteria”). The myths about the wandering womb appeared in ancient Egypt, where the uterus was believed to be a living animal that travels to the upper body, causing various ailments, including dyspnea. The notion of uterine dyspnea was again referred to by Hippocrates, who was considered the creator of the concept of hysteria. He argued that as a result of sexual inactivity, the uterus dries up and travels upward in search of moisture, pressing the heart, lungs, and diaphragm. The symptoms of hysteria were, according to him, restlessness, dizziness, eye turning, bruising, teeth clenching, and others. At the turn of the Middle Ages and the modern era, hysteria began to be associated with being possessed by the devil, and prayer and exorcisms were the recommended treatment. Later, theories of black bile and hysterical vapors appeared. The wandering and drying uterus was still believed in back in the 19th century. For example, it was believed that too much intellectual activity in women could lead to womb withering. In this project, however, there is no wandering uterus, but a wandering navel, which is funny, but also a bit scary. Here, too, we are dealing with the indication to the female body, which appears as a source of phantasms and lurking dangers (another interesting myth about the female body is “vagina dentata” having the power to devour a partner during intercourse) and a place where certain organs seem to live their own lives and take concrete action. [Adapted from Iza Kowalczyk, Zapisane w Ciele, exhibition catalog]