Tag Archives: panties

The Panty Project, Updated

Marlene says:

I posted a little while ago about Dorian Katz’s panty chain-letter project. When I wrote it, I said that there had been no decision as to what would become of the panties. Now (at least some of) their fate has been revealed.

Thursday was the opening reception for the Stanford University MFA program first year student show. The show included The Panty Chain by Dorian Katz. Your panties may have been nailed to the wall. I know mine were.

In my earlier post (linked in the first paragraph), I talked about being uncertain of what was or was not comfortable or appropriate or too sexual or too personal about sending one’s panties to strangers. The same kinds of uncertainty persist in the work, with the addition of uncertainties between fine art and folk art, public and private, reputable and disreputable, and I’m sure plenty more.

Responses to the work varied. One viewer asked the artist if “the piece also functions on an olfactory level.” That’s as high-falutin’ a way as there is to say “Hi, can I sniff your panty collection?” Unfortunately (or fortunately), any scent tends to dissipate after a few days.

The installation featured a donation box and much fun was had by all as a few brave souls peeled off their panties in the middle of the gallery to drop them in the box.

Carol Queen undressing

Dr Carol Queen, author of Exhibitionism for the Shy, making a panty donation.

giant gold panties with exhibit text

The text of the letter was rendered in the form of a giant pair of gold panties.

personalized panty portraits

Individual pairs of panties had portraits made, often with other content related to the donor.

sample postcards in a panty frame

A group of postcard size drawings representational of the ones sent to folks who donated panties to the project were also on display.

Unfortunately, the lavender color Dorian painted onto the forty feet of gallery wall for her display makes color photography challenging. Please forgive the oddly gray pictures. (The first two photos are by D. R. Alfonso.)

While many things are going on in this work, on multiple levels, one thing always stands out to me about Dorian’s work: there is a fearless truth to it. She is expressing attitudes and ideas and experiences of her personal life and her community in a way that is completely unashamed. That might sound like a simple thing, but I think it is incredibly important.

All of us who are involved with the politics of bodies or gender or sexuality or most kinds of outsider status are fighting against shame. We are constantly facing fat-shaming, slut-shaming, outright attacks on the ways we define our very existences, hateful caricatures of any feature that might differentiate us from others, and a range of negative messages about ourselves that is so broad and pervasive that I have trouble naming them all. We are told we are dirty and ugly and unlovable. Sometimes, to see someone standing up against it all with a smile on her face is more powerful than all the analysis and theory and unpacking of cultural tropes that can ever be written. Apparently, sometimes all it takes is a bunch of dirty panties.

This is not the end of Dorian Katz’s panty adventures. If you have not yet gotten around to sending your panties and would like to, it is not too late.
Dorian Katz
PO Box 20461
Stanford, CA

The show is up until February 21 at the Thomas Welton Stanford Art Gallery, open Tuesday through Friday, 10 AM–5 PM, and Saturday and Sunday, 1-5 PM. Admission is free. The Gallery is located in the Stanford campus, off Palm Drive at 419 Lasuen Mall. Parking is free after 4 PM and all day on weekends. Information: (650) 723-2842, http://art.stanford.edu.

Everyone Likes Panties. Don’t They?

Dorian Katz is a sometimes writer, sometimes performer, full time visual artist and a troublemaker. She is also my girlfriend.

Even though she’s my girlfriend, you can probably have some panties she’s worn, if you like. I suppose I should explain that. She’s currently working on a project that involves panties; hers, yours, friends’, strangers’. Lots of panties! To be exact, Dorian is sending her panties out in to the world as part of a chain letter.

Dorian with panties

She wears a pair of panties and then folds them up and puts them in an envelope with a letter. The letter asks the recipient to send three pair of their own worn panties out in to the world. Two go to new people of the sender’s choosing. One goes to Dorian. When she receives panties with a return address, she draws a picture of the panties and sends it back. The idea is that at every step, the number of panties returning to her will double. Lots of panties!

So, you may ask, what exactly is this crazy lady doing with all these panties? That’s not entirely decided yet. They might be sewn together in to a quilt. They might be dipped in polyester resin and made into a sculpture. They might be ground up in to tiny bits and made in to paper. I’m not sure that what becomes of the panties is the most important piece of the project.

Aside from the obvious silliness, there’s a lot going on here. There’s definitely sex. There’s attraction and maybe a tiny bit of revulsion. There is the contrast between the current dominant culture obsession with “cleanliness” (hairless, odorless, colorless, bloodless) and the (remarkably mundane) fetish for soiled panties. I think above all there is risk.

There is the risk of offering an intimate gesture that might be met with disdain or rejection. Panties are intimate. Sending your panties to dozens of people is not as easy a thing as it might seem. I’ve watched Dorian wonder if people will think this is creepy or if they will respond in a way that she finds creepy. I see her pushing herself beyond what is her usual comfort zone and hoping that others will push themselves a little in the same way.

Right now, I’m trying to decide who to send my panties to. I’m carefully considering my options. I don’t want to send them to someone who will take it as an unwanted sexual advance. I don’t want to send them to someone who will take it as an invitation I don’t mean to extend. I don’t want to send them to someone who won’t send their panties out in to the world. This gets complicated. Whoever I decide on, I will be nervous about what they think of getting my panties in the mail. Whoever I decide on, my heart will beat a little faster when I drop the envelopes in the mailbox. I can’t say that it’s very often that art makes my heart beat faster.

If you have not yet received a pair of panties with a charming chain letter, and would like to, you can start by sending your panties (not laundry fresh) to Dorian with a note expressing your interest in participating. The note is important. With no note, she will mistake your panties for those of someone who has already received the letter, and only send a drawing. She will send you panties she has worn along with the letter and a drawing of your panties. She even includes form letters for you to include with the panties you send to others. Once drawings are sent back, there will be no record kept of who has sent panties. All contact information will be destroyed. You don’t need to worry about being on some Panty Watch List or about being embarrassed in some other way.

You will notice that I have not revealed the contents of the chain letter. I promised Dorian that I wouldn’t. There is only one way that you get to read it. I can only tell you that it’s funny.

Send your panties to:
Dorian Katz
PO Box 20461
Stanford, CA 94309