THE BIRTH VOICE
is a distillation of the experience some mothers have during childbirth, recounted as a sensation of not recognizing one’s own voice - when a visiting birth voice takes over. A primal voice resembling a polyphonic choir. A choir of mothers.
This phenomenon, a particularly intimate experience, is now being shared with anyone in the world by the mothers themselves. The Birth Voice grapples with the expansive number of videos of women giving birth found on YouTube, treating them as a resource for material as well as an unwieldy reflection of contemporary birth culture. The negotiation process of social norms in digital spaces is ongoing, as is the discussion on the impact of digital oversharing. From identity to friendship, family to sexuality, religion to politics, celebration to shame - being globally public with what have until recently been private has had an extensive effect on how we see ourselves as a species, and just what our place is in the world.
The videos are part of a new era of women's empowerment, where women are working to reclaim the definition of body and childbirth. We see a birth-sharing trend, an eagerness to publicise experiences around childbirth and thus demystify the birthing process - videos filmed in hospitals, at home, in gardens, in cars and often with titles including the adjectives natural, honest, raw and real. While this trend is reminiscent of past birthing cultures, wherein women gave birth surrounded by other women from the community, at the same time it is imbued with the uniquely modern compulsion to inject a performative aspect into the most intimate moments of life.
The audio from 11 of these YouTube births has been transcribed into sheet music and form the core of a choral arrangement for 3 voices. The choir piece moves like a rhapsody stitching together found sequences of tones occurring by chance within the different birth situations: melodies of birthing women.
LISTEN WITH HEADPHONES
This project is kindly supported by
Frauenmuseum Hittisau and The Danish Art Foundation