Salle Sauvage (2017) Giclee on Hahnemuhle Pearl Paper in eds: medium 60 x 80cm (25); large 90 x 120cm (15); XL 120 x 160cm (10), XXL 150 x 190cm (7). All +2AP. Affordable Small Limited Eds on POD Satin Paper also available. Buy Art Now
“The bearing of children ought to become as free from danger and long debility to civilised woman as it is to the savage.”— Thomas Huxley
‘Salle Sauvage’ translates to ‘primitive room’, a term coined by renowned obstretician Michel Odent in reference to his hospital in Pithiviers, France, with rooms designed to accommodate the primal instincts of labouring women. Here, a glass Cube set within the urban landscape of London becomes a metaphor for Odent’s primitive room and a woman’s connection with nature through homebirth. It is as though the walls of a living room have become transparent admitting our spectatorship into the private space of a birthing woman, perhaps for our enlightenment as well as vicariousness.
“Buscar la forma” say the women of the Yucatan in Mexico, meaning to find your style, in contrast to the Western medical model’s insistence of prescribing one generally correct position for birth. Whilst the male partner and the midwife look on in awe, intimidation or both, they guard the space of a brazen Amazonian who stands and delivers with audacious autonomy, a race-encompassing universality. Power, pain and ecstasy intermingled in one big shout, her baby is born safely, savagely, without interruption into her own hands. In the words of Ina May Gaskin, she “lets her monkey do it”; an animal behind a screen that poignantly, unnervingly evokes a human menagerie: natural birth as a cabinet specimen, a primitive display that threatens to be a thing of the past?
Photographer & director: Natalie Lennard / Models: Gina Harrison, Liz Nightingale, Henry Morris / HMUA: Grace Gray / Prosthetics: Lifecast / BTS Camera & Editing: Beyond Content / Assistant: Chris Christoforou / With thanks to Sarah Butcher