A Journal of Menstruation and Culture
Vipin Vijay's 55 minute film, Poomaram, or A Flowering Tree is a conscious tribute to Judy Grahn's Metaformic Theory. Vipin is a south Indian filmmaker, from Kerala. His film is not meant to teach the theory in any rote manner. Rather, Vipin's cinematography powerfully illuminates crucial points in Judy's book, Blood, Bread, and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World: the menstrual origins of sciences and arts, such as geometry, time, painting, and cooking; and also the violence, and the isolation that inevitably accompany the loss of women's rituals within a society.
Centrally, Poomaram studies ways we communicate - in blood, in hand
gestures, in cosmetikos (world ordering) of painting the body, cooking, dyeing cloth; and also in books, which the filmmaker treasures; and of course in the swift, evocative, poetic imagery of film. Judy's book was intended as a gift to women, and Vipin's film is a gift both to women and to Judy's book. Though Judy has done some research in Kerala, the two have never met, and she had no idea he was making this film until she read about it on the internet.
The artful visuals are accompanied by well-selected text, underscored by
the music of John Cage, poetry of Laurie Anderson, and more. A section animates Vanessa Tiegs' gorgeous and unique menstrual paintings. Another section playfully parodies the tiger predator of (very ancient) bleeding women - without mentioning that tiger is one aspect of the goddess Bhagavati in Kerala. (See Dianne Jenett's article in this Journal for a description of one of Kerala's "goddesses who menstruate".) Subtleties abound, such as the scenes in an empty taravad (architecturally distinguished matrilineal extended family house, abandoned now for nuclear families and apartment buildings). Another example is a careful close up of the swirl of white foam in a vessel of blood red dye, with a beautiful resemblance to the Milky Way.
Vipin Vijay is the winner of numerous awards. His films have been shown in festivals in the Czech Republic, Montreal, New Delhi, Oberhausen, Montreal, Chicago, Tehran, and Karachi (Pakistan). Currently, Poomaram is showing at a festival in Rotterdam.