Searching for Yukon condom art

Anne Cisse put out a call for condom-inspired art. Then, she put out another call. "I was expecting more (interest)," said the Yukon's Francophone Community Health Network promotion and communication officer. "And I was expecting younger artists." Instead, she got a large quilted wall hanging, some flowering ovaries and a knit condom with little arms holding a sign.

Anne Cisse put out a call for condom-inspired art.

Then, she put out another call.

“I was expecting more (interest),” said the Yukon’s Francophone Community Health Network promotion and communication officer.

“And I was expecting younger artists.”

Instead, she got a large quilted wall hanging, some flowering ovaries and a knit condom with little arms holding a sign.

“Most of the works are by mature artists,” she said, mentioning Natalie Parenteau, who’s making two dolls and a painting for the show.

Cisse started searching for condom art shortly after she arrived in the Yukon and took on the Francophone Community Health Network job.

She wanted to create an exhibit to inspire the Yukon government-issued French condom wrappers, that come out twice a year.

The condoms go to social workers, health centres and schools.

And the Yukon government always creates the cover, said Cisse.

“But we wanted to get the community involved and get artists in the community to do artwork.”

Bonnie Daziel’s ornate quilted piece, a mermaid sitting underwater with a fishing lure necklace, was already finished when Cisse began looking for condom art.

On the fishhook necklace there are three condoms, still in their packages.

They look like they were added as an after-thought, but they were part of the original work, said Cisse.

Then, someone told her about a painting they’d seen by Bart Bounds that had a woman holding a limp, used condom.

Cisse sought out the painting, which also features a crucified Jesus, some ovaries holding Easter eggs, a Virgin Mary and a couple expectant Easter bunnies.

“The show will have some mature content,” said Cisse.

“The painting by Parenteau is going to be very erotic, I think.”

Jozien Keijzer’s work, on a rough piece of poplar bark, shows two people embracing beneath a wrinkled condom that’s been glued above.

With the piece, Keijzer writes: “My husband and I have been using condoms for many years! We prefer condoms above pills or an operation. I could have told you many wonderful stories from over the years. We have and always had an exciting sex life.”

Keijzer goes on to explain she became pregnant with her son, now 19, when she was on the pill. “Never with the use of condoms I got pregnant,” she writes.

Keijzer wasn’t afraid to talk openly about her sex life.

But many people are shy about it, said Cisse.

“I think maybe the (subject matter) scared people away.”

Shelagh Smith tackles the touchy subject in a humorous speech she wrote in 1996. The text’s been blown up as part of the show:

“People are so embarrassed to talk about condoms, never mind buying them.

What if your friend’s parents or your boss walks by?

“You could just say that you’re buying luggage tags.

“I used to spend a lot of money on expensive designer luggage tags. Now I just put condoms around the handle and no one goes near my suitcase!”

Another artist’s work features Darth Vader on a condom wrapper saying, “I am not going to be your father.”

While the hand-knit condom by Francoise La Roche is holding a sign that says “Cute condom,” in French.

Cisse, who’s from Paris, is in Canada on a one-year working/holiday visa. She spent the spring and summer in Montreal then “decided to see another part of Canada.” So she headed to Whitehorse for the winter.

In France, there is a big condom-awareness campaign, said Cisse.

There are still sexually transmitted diseases, so there still needs to be awareness, she said.

Three of the works of art in the upcoming exhibit will be recognized, and one will be chosen to inspire the Yukon government’s next French condom wrapper.

The show, called Condom Tales, opens at the Yukon Arts Centre’s studio theatre on March 30th from 5 p.m to 8 p.m. Cocktails and appetizers will be served.

It runs until April 15.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com