Being: New Photography 2018

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Carmen Winant. _My Birth_ (detail). 2018. Found images and tape. Courtesy the artist. © 2018 Carmen Winant

Carmen Winant. My Birth. 2018

Carmen Winant. My Birth (detail). 2018. Found images and tape. Courtesy the artist. © 2018 Carmen Winant

Carmen Winant: My name is Carmen Winant. And this is my work, titled My Birth.

This is a work that's constituted of over 2,000 images, and they're all found images from books, and pamphlets, and magazines.

Many of these books are designed to give women information about their bodies, with the understanding that said information is power.

Most of my work deals with found content that comes directly out of the feminist movement in the early-to-mid-'70s. And I think a lot about who that movement is for, who it represents, who authored it, and, as a result, the kinds of pictures that come out of it. There's very few images of non-white women. And that's not un-coincidental, um, in that that material doesn't exist, um, or it's much harder to find. How do you speak to a presence that isn't there? Like, how do I account for something that I actually can't find pictures of? I think about identity both in terms of who's being pictured and who's not being pictured.

I hadn't seen many images in my life of women giving birth, and it is a political act to have yourself photographed in that way, which is part of the point. It's difficult to see that image over and over again and it fails to describe the bodily experience. So, I'm interested in how that kind of photograph can have all of those, sort of, concurrent impacts.

By having 2,000 photographs, the work asserts that there's no single way to read a narrative into the project. That, in fact, photographs can and, in many ways, should exist to contradict one another. And I think the title of the work speaks a little bit to this kind of contradiction or My Birth could, of course, refer to, the moment in which I was born, or, the instance in which I had my own son, 32 years later. This could be a shared narrative that both collapses time, and also sort of points to the difference between kinds of experience.