PHOTO: LEAH DEVUN
Photographer Leah DeVun is on a mission to end the shaming that is too often related to "unnatural" childbirth or breastfeeding.
In other words, c-sections and breast pumping.
DeVun, who herself experienced a complicated pregnancy and birth, told The Huffington Post that she finds it troubling when medical interventions during birth are frowned upon:
"People have a lot of complex feelings about the ‘success’ of their birth. It’s interesting to encounter people’s perceptions about what their bodies are supposed to do. It struck me how much technological aid it actually takes to assist in these processes that we think of as natural."
With In the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, DeVun launches her first conversation in this realm by focusing on breast pumping to show what really goes into expressing milk.
From pumping bras:
To hand pumps:
To nipple shields:
To leak pads:
DeVun says she was struck by how natural the devices look on the women, even as foreign objects.
"They looked so alien in a lot of ways, but they are so quotidian, so ordinary," she explains. "It’s like [upon using them] you get initiated into this secret club—and before that, everything is a complete mystery."
The series' tone invokes that of DeVun's own experiences with pregnancy:
"I’m not trying to say that this represents some kind of failure of adhering to nature. I just want to think about the complexity of our bodies, all the ways we are knit together with our environment, and all of its contradictions. Pausing to think about these networks between our flesh, all this plastic and what it even means to do a natural thing."
Because at the end of the day, every mother does what she has to do to get the job done.
DeVun’s work is being shown at the “Chimeras" exhibition at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts until April 29.
H/t: The Huffington Post