In her debut book Mère, we see the artist Julie Scheurweghs in different stages of labour. Scheurweghs' natural home birth took 16 hours, and while being by her side, the whole process was closely documented by her partner. Later, while going through the photographs Scheurweghs noticed the details that accurately matched her recollections from the day. She claimed the photographs by cropping them to their bare essence, creating a new body of work showing the intensity of the experience. The skin-close, uncensored and heartfelt photographs of heavy contractions alternated with calm moments in between show us not only a baby being born, but the birth of a mother as well.
“When I became pregnant I was extremely afraid of giving birth. The way delivery is depicted in media - screaming mothers surrounded by doctors - combined with horror stories from family of epidurals not working made me dread ever having to push a baby out. But as my pregnancy progressed I started to research on natural births and found comfort in seeing images of women in labour on social media. It gave me a sense of relief and I came to understand it doesn’t need to be a negative experience, but could in fact be an empowering one. There is a great power in giving birth, one of transformation, hope and new beginnings. I want to share this with the world and I hope that women can find comfort in the work.“
Scheurweghs’ work is centered around womanhood: what it means to be a woman in this world, motherhood, intimate family life, and the female view. Ever since becoming a mother herself, Scheurweghs has focused on documenting the experience of giving birth in particular.
148pp, 160 × 220 mm, 142 black & white photographs
OTA bound paperback
Kult Books, second printing, January 2022