Nora Heidorn (RCA) - 2020-21 Students
Reimagining Sexual Reproduction Through Visual Arts Practices
CDA in collaboration with Royal College of Art and Birth Rites Collection
This practice-research develops an expanded curatorial methodology to highlight the frequently elided intersections of sexual reproduction with questions of race, class and ability in the visual arts. Beginning from the context of Birth Rites Collection, a unique collection of contemporary art on the theme of birth and the maternal, this Collaborative Doctoral Award contributes to artistic and scholarly discussions around art and sexual reproduction in the fields of art and curating, as well as the visual medical humanities.
The practice-research revolves around objects from the history of contraception and obstetrics: an early 20th century contraceptive that was promoted by a British feminist pioneer and eugenicist, and a racist ethnography of birthing positions that was written by an American obstetrician in the late 19th century. The material artefacts are studied using secondary sources from the history of medicine and science, primary materials in archives, and artistic methods.
Through writing, creative work, and public engagement, this interdisciplinary research-practice introduces a biopolitical and historical perspective on sexual reproduction that complements and expands the remit of BRC’s collection and discourses. More widely, it aims to challenge this field’s feminism, which is deeply focused on questions of gender and reproductive labour, to think more intersectionally about how race, class and ability impact experiences of sexual reproduction.