07 February 2008

Pink marble fetuses all in a row

Sculptor Marc Quinn has done it again. Famous for representing the beauty of pregnancy in a disabled body without arms or legs (Alison Lapper), Quinn's latest exhibition looks at the internal view of the womb; 9 pink marble fetuses enrobed in a sort of maternal 'pipework' at London's White Cube gallery. A way of representing the mysterious baby 'bump', Quinn was inspired by the reactions to Alison Lapper's body shape as 'disfigured' and not 'pregnant'. Quinn says:
"There are nine sculptures altogether but there isn't one for each month because really the most interesting changes are at the beginning. The series does continue until birth. In the final sculpture, the baby is upside down and about to drop out -- just before the fall as it were.''
Quinn's comparison is far too simplistic. Whereas Alison Lapper is an actual woman, embodied as pregnant in his earlier work, the marble fetuses are without 'mothers'. Whereas Quinn is attempting to show the 'evolution' of human life right up until a 'baby' is ready to 'drop out' (interesting choice of words), there is no 'mother' embodied to do the 'dropping' as it were. Quinn's work is radical in that he tries to confront individuals with their own strange beginning as fetuses to counter the judgement of disabled bodies in the spirit of Lapper. Yet, Quinn never mentions that in order to 'make visible what is hidden' beneath a mother's skin, the mother cannot exist. This is precisely why 3D/4D ultrasonography is so powerful. If the mother's body remained present in the 'photo', the fetus would not seem like a separate person. The pink marble fetuses only reinvoke the traditional scientific and cultural paradigm of personhood as disembodied and masculine.


herself said...

Yeah way to completely obscure/obliterate the mother that is building this fetus, is responsible for these 'interesting changes' he documents, and that will have to WORK HARD to birth it-- I mean "drop out"? "fall"?? That is some crazy ish that (maybe unintentionally) tries to make it sound like baby can just come into the world independent of the woman's body that made it. Although I guess that language is consistent with this particular "fetus-centric" piece, so it makes sense with where he's coming from in this work. I'm more interested now in his earlier piece; that sounded cooler.

Ruth Speed said...

I love this work, as a first year university student this fits in so well with the areas I am looking at - women issues, abortion and parental responsibilities.

I also realised this same idea on a much smaller scale for my project, so it was all inspiring discovering Quinns work and to see this idea created by a very much respected artist and sculptor.

I'm just sorry I missed the exhibition. Ruth Speed. ruthspeed@gmail.com

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The Baby Bump Project by Meredith Nash is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.