Eleanor Hannan and Elizabeth Dancoes's 1001 Funny Things you can do with a Skirt
Stories and art on the ancient skirt gesture of Anasyrma

Anasyrma : the lifting of the skirt: introductions by Elizabeth and Eleanor

Anasyrma: the gesture

The ritual gesture of Anasyrma spans human history. Its endurance intimates our profound identification of female sexuality with un-stoppable life force. Many find the Anasyrma gesture frightening in its fierce assertion of gynocentric potency. Perhaps because of this, it remains a gesture of protest around the world, restoring power and laughter to women.

Our starting point in considering Anasyrma was the story of the serving maid, Baubo (Iambe), and her encounter with the goddess, Demeter: Baubo lifts her skirt and the goddess laughs. Why? 

Anasyrma is the Mystery that inhabits the space between the obvious and the unknowable and its object is the skirt.

Beginning with a snuggling face hiding in the warmth of its soft folds, through childhood and teenage provocations, onto an adult sensual indulgence in the caress of silken textiles, to the appreciation of weightier fabrics that assert shamanistic powers, women experience the skirt as a distinctive reminder of the archetypal aspect of the feminine.

‘Skirt Power Stories’ investigates the texture, sound and appearance of the skirt and the cultural pervasiveness of its expression as an extension of primal female sexuality. The eloquence of its movement marking us simultaneously as serving maid and goddess forever at a crossroads negotiating an outcome with fate.

- Elizabeth Dancoes


We thought of the website for '1001 Funny Things' as a place to house all our research, our thoughts (know as the dialogues on the site), our stories and imagery on the gesture Anasyrma. We started the work over 20 years ago and we now have plenty of both finished and more experimental stories and art. 

The intention is coherence and sequence but the material interestingly resists it a bit and refuses to fit neatly and easily into the website format. It's a challenging process but speaks to the forceful, 'abhorring containment' full-on sensuality of the material.

Drag up ancient feminine story, lift the skirt and just try to make it fit a now societally embedded technological (mechanism) (constriction). Sure, order and searchability, neat and clean; this goes here that goes there, save and sell, when this is all about subtle revelation and breaking imposed limits to transcendence and transformation and is above all about intense erotic power and evocative, inexplicable humour (as mentioned by Elizabeth above). 

We were different people when we started (as you will read in our dialogues and other thoughts). We were mothers of young daughters; we were interested in both down-to-earth researching and pushing creative boundaries. Much of the research on this gesture and myths of women in general was being newly rethought at the time. We 'founded' our work in the then newly published book, "The Metamorphosis of Baubo: Myths of Women's Sexual Energy" by Winifred Vincent Lubell (writer /artist, 1914-2012). And we ventured into new ways of presenting the material, for example as an anonymous street-card usually associated with advertising and as a CD-ROM.  

Now as women in our sixties we are re-exploring the materials from a much different perspective.

We came together again to put on another exhibition with another story as a celebration of Elizabeth's 60th birthday 2014.The show opened in November 2016 (just a few days before the fateful US election) and the advent of (toxic masculinity) (what the complex world we are in today). The show was called "Silly Skirt Poem".  

And to find a way to accumulate, revisit, organize and present years of digital and analogue file-folders and drawing-portfolios bulging with stashed and (for us) valuable work on the mythology of women's sexual energy. It has presented us with new challenges as artists and as friends.
We want nothing more than to share this with you. 

-Eleanor Hannan