Birth as performance art — literally

totally NSFW

This picture has been making the rounds on Facebook.

Click here to see it if you dare. It’s very bloody, and, once seen, cannot be unseen.

The image is so obviously staged that I wondered whether it was even real. It is. And it is a piece of performance art by an actual artist.

According to the artist, Ana Alvarez-Errecalde, this is a portrait of her in the aftermath of the birth of her daughter.

With this documental self-portrait (without Photoshop or any kind of image manipulation) of myself giving birth I want to challenge most of maternities in films, advertising and all of art history.

Without image manipulation? Not exactly, since the photo is staged on a photographic background and the mother has at least washed her face and combed her hair.

Interestingly, the artist wanted to show that birth is NOT sacred:

These maternities re-enforce the stereotypes that impart from heterosexual masculine fantasies, in which exist the duality of the mother/whore, making sacred all that has to do with the “mother” (maternity with veil included).


By giving birth I take off my “cultural” veil. My maternity is not virginal, not aseptic.

Well, yes, birth is not virginal.

Had she stopped there, she would have distinguished her art from the “look at me and be impressed” school of birth performance art. But she too wants you to look at her and be impressed.

I am the protagonist. I am a hero.

Umm, no. You are not a hero, any more than you are a hero when you digest your food and absorb oxygen through your lungs.

And if she’s the hero, what is the baby? Nothing apparently, just another prop in the world of birth performance art.