CONTEXTUAL RESEARCH : Laia Abril

The top parts of this CRJ post are written 16.04.2021, whilst the bottom two are from 2019.

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I accidentally came to Abril’s work when I saw her ‘On abortion’ exhibition as part of the Deutsche Borse photography foundation prize at the photographers gallery in 2019 . I wrote about this in the blog post below. 

This was my first introduction to Abril’s work, and I connected with it straight away. The connection between my pre-MA birth work and advocacy, with female rights being at the core of my work was strong. I also connected straight away to what I now recognise as both the multimedia aspects of the work as well as the research methods that dig right down deep into the issues of what is happening with it’s subject, how that effects people, communities, and wider society in general. In addition this method of research giving a voice to the community you are representing , rather than simply speaking for them, as discussed by Mariama Attah in her SPBH talk ‘Contemporary photography and activism’  .

I came to later utilise similar methods of research in my own work, whilst ebing acutely aware that I still have so much further to go before I get to where I want to be in my level and depth of research , I continue to reference Abril’s work in my own, and look to her research methods to help inform my own work as well, recently having a portfolio review with Abril where we discussed my project in depth, it’s research methods and it’s potential for book publication.

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Media in many forms have informed, contextualised and underpinned my work throughout the MA. I was especially drawn to the end pages of Abril’s book, showing newspaper adverts for abortionists who would ‘hide’ their services in plain sight for women who needed them. The two end papers representing both the adverts of the past below at the front, and the modern day ones, showing how little has changed, at the back. 

I ended up utilising more audio / film media in my work than newspaper articles, however I have lots of ideas for how to include these in the project going forward after the MA. One is to collate every article I can find since the 

Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London. 

The below page includes image, quote and interview with rebecca gomperts, a dutch dr offering abortions to women in their first trimester on the boat in international waters. There is a seamless jump from personal story, to facts and figures, to law and legislation here on this spread that keeps the reader engage, gives them the most pertinent information backed up with facts but with the quotes and image keeps it ‘light’ enough to oddly be simultaneously detached and moved by what you are reading. The image of the boat on the water could be a postcard photo or holiday brochure image, which is used as a tool to highlight the horror of what is happening to these women, and the extremes to what they have to go to try and access abortions. 

Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London.

 

The below spread is one of the many case studies included in the book. Some are presented with images of the women, whilst some the women retain their anonymity through blurring and pixelating of the images. This particular one outlines the first hand story of a woman in Poland who underwent an abortion at home through obtaining arthritis pills. The open way of talking about it , in her own words, you almost here her saying them. This is what I wish for in my project, for someone to read the words, or hear the audio of the families and feel they are there with them, to have that deep connection to what is on the page or on the gallery wall. 

Abril’s simple photo essay design of double images with quotes under each tell the story in short bite size pieces to be able to digest. This would also work well in gallery format, and is very similar to what I will be presenting at the exhibition in Falmouth art gallery where each images will have a piece of text on home education guidance, quotes from parents, or extracts from media articles/shows on home education.Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London. 

 

THE BELOW POST IS REPOSTED FROM MY CRJ ON 15.11.2019.

Researching photographers : Laia Abril talk RPS Bristol

Yesterday evening I made the three hour drive from Cornwall to RPS Bristol to go to the mini click artist talk with Laia Abril, (hosted by Jack Latham) where she discussed her project A history of Misogyny, chapter one : On abortion , and the repercussions of a lack of access, which was originally created as an exhibition for Arles in 2018 and was then made into an accompanying book. Laia explained there are 4 chapters to a history of Misogyny , chapter 2 : On Rape is currently being exhibited at Paris Photo.

I very nearly didn’t attend this event as not only has the weather been awful the last day or two and I was worried about getting stuck in snow potentially, the A30 has loads of diversions so a 2.5 hr drive took 3.5 , but most importantly, I am becoming acutely aware that time is disappearing to do my oral presentation, and although I have been writing notes on and making audio recordings to go towards my op , I still haven’t actually started it .

However , I decided in the end after RPS promising Laia was still coming, despite the weather to attend, and I am so glad that I did ! Laia Abril On Abortion

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The below blog post is reposted from my CRJ on 07.06.2019

After we had finished at the V&A we headed over to the Photographers Gallery to view the Laia Abril exhibition “ON ABORTION ” { you can view the book & project here … http://www.laiaabril.com/project/abortion/  } which was part of the {Deutsche Borse photography foundation prize 2019 https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/exhibition/deutsche-borse-photography-foundation-prize-2019 }.

The exhibition resinated with me on many levels, my birth work at it’s very core is about female rights, a women’s rights to autonomy over her own body and decisions surrounding it. When I applied for the MA I said the following about my birth photography ” In 2012 I fought again…..to be granted access to photograph cesarean deliveries for women in theatre.” This is something, I don’t believe we should have to fight for, we should all be entitled to our memories. Birth photography became about more than the images, it became about women rights, birth rights, advocacy, a mothers voice & her right to be heard.” and this exhibition fit with that narrative perfectly, it is something I feel deeply within my core, that we still need so much to work on in this world, and just like some of the wonderful birth photographers I follow, exhibitions like Laia Abril’s are doing beautiful, sensitive work to bring these issues to the forefront of a culture that has ignored the collective female voice for far too long.

The photographers gallery
The photographers gallery, London.
Laia Abril, "ON ABORTION" Voice mail, Florida, Abortion clinic - clinic staffer , August 28 , 2015 ,
Laia Abril, “ON ABORTION” Voice mail, Florida, Abortion clinic – clinic staffer , August 28 , 2015
Laia Abril, "ON ABORTION" , In labour X-Ray. Atlas Roentgenographic diagnosis of pregnancy & childbirth. Kurt Warnekros X-ray 1921 . Museum of medical history of Catalonia Barcelona.
Laia Abril, “ON ABORTION” , In labour X-Ray. Atlas Roentgenographic diagnosis of pregnancy & childbirth. Kurt Warnekros X-ray 1921 . Museum of medical history of Catalonia Barcelona.

REFERENCES

Abril, Laia. 2018. On abortion, Dewi Lewis. London. 

Self publish be happy, Vimeo. 2021. Contemporary photography and activism with Mariama Attah. Available at https://vimeo.com/spbh (Accessed march 2021)

Abril, Laia. 2019. On abortion exhibition. The photographers gallery. London.

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This blog is written as part of my studies on the Falmouth University photography ma, an accredited educational programme.