There are endless facets of wonder to pregnancy and yet, physically and visually, it’s a constant challenge. Carrying your child inside you, cohabitating in the most intimate way, feeling its character while still invisible to everyone else…
There is a whole market for pregnancy portraits, belly casts, and so on, but I have never been drawn to it myself.
Honestly, I have never really photographed my own – or any other – pregnancy before. But, recently I encountered a moment in my life where it was conceptually impossible not to do so. To go back to the beginning: Claudia de la Torre is a dear friend and I have always loved working with her. We met when she was a student at the Karlsruhe Art Academy and connected instantly through our shared passion for artist books, and she founded her own publishing house, backbonebooks, in 2011. A Mexican artist based between Berlin and New Mexico, Claudia has made an impressive career as an artist, publisher, and creator of artist book workshops worldwide.
And through 2015 and 2016, I was lucky enough to have her by my side as my collaborator, model, friend, publisher – and babysitter!
Together, we would make a body cast in the living room, then she would go read a book to my son and daughter. We would shoot slides on the balcony, then cook a meal together. Claudia has been part of my family ever since. To bring this story full circle, in 2016, we collaborated on the artist edition book of ‘Das Rheinrauschen’, which we launched during my solo show in Basel, including a sample of the river perfume I had created as a roll-on scent. Then in 2019, Claudia showed my work in Tokyo and published my artist book, Zitronen-Wal-Seife. And, now, in 2023, this amazing woman – whose belly I had cast in my living room years ago – is carrying her own child and becoming a mother.
When Claudia told me she was expecting, I instinctively knew that to witness her pregnancy via portraiture was absolutely essential, and wonderful. What is special for me about these portraits, on an aesthetic level, is that the shape of the belly is being created by her own hands. It’s the hands that actively define the space of her pregnant belly, rather than the belly just showing itself.
And so, obviously, I want my pregnancy portraits to serve as beautiful memories of this very particular time for Claudia and her dearest ones.
But I also see these portraits as an invitation to others to shape their own image during important moments of their lives – moments that so often slip away from us in our everyday lives.
And I am happy to listen, support, and assist in this very process.