The Quickening - PhMuseum

The Quickening

Ying Ang

2017 - 2020

“The Quickening” is a project that details my experience of the claustrophobia, myopia, paradoxical loneliness and luminance of matrescence. Motherhood is deeply physiological, anchored in the flesh, and also taps into the most animalistic, intuitive and sacrificial parts of our psyche.

You begin your life in expansion. From rolling to crawling to walking, your reach moves outwards from infancy through to adulthood. At the cusp of motherhood, everything instantaneously moves in reverse. Your world begins to shrink, to coalesce into the tight sphere of domestic life. What was once the sun is now the light in your living room. What was once the road, becomes the hallway to the bathroom. Everyone you once knew, becomes the squalling baby in your arms, suddenly unknowable, inconsolable and alien in their needs and wants. As the external landscape of your old world shifts from mountains to lakes, the change also begins within. In increments and then suddenly faster and faster, you become internally unrecognizable. The task of navigating this new geography, the new days and nights, how you eat, how you sleep, how you love, this seismic transition, is called “matresence”.

“The Quickening” project will primarily take place as an artist book, published in a run of 250, which is indicative of the number of days I was in gestation for leading to my child’s pre-term birth. There will be a special edition run of 30 books which will make up the full 280 copies, mirroring the number of days of a full term gestation. The book is an accumulation of photographs and written works that have been developed over a 4 year period, including an intensive period of design in collaboration with highly-sought after Dutch book designer, Teun Van Der Heijden - a partnership that ensures wide international visibility. Grant funding would be used to continue the design process and facilitate publishing.

The grant will fund the completion of book making and publishing on an issue of imperative social importance, which makes up the foundation of my practice. The artist book is central to my practice that drives satellite professional activities in exhibiting, panel discussions on publishing, teaching photography and bookmaking domestically and internationally and running workshops that interrogate the issues discussed in my work, in this case, postpartum depression and anxiety.

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