Romantic narrative of childbirth challenged

Published: 14 October 2015 at 14:27

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Anglia Ruskin lecturer Kerstin Hacker to display powerful maternity ward images

A powerful series of photographs chronicling childbirth in a Prague hospital in the early 1990s will go on show in Cambridge next week.

The Maternity Ward exhibition features photographs by Kerstin Hacker, the Course Leader for Photography at Anglia Ruskin University, and is part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

Hacker took the photographs over a period of two months at the Vinohrady Hospital, a large teaching hospital in the centre of Prague, while she was at FAMU (University of Applied Arts in Prague).

The series gives an insight into the busy maternity department of the hospital and challenges the romantic narrative surrounding childbirth.

The uncompromising images won Hacker the Emma/Agfa Prize for Female Photojournalists in Germany in 1993.

German-born Hacker said:

"The photographs were taken in 1992, while I was living in what was then still Czechoslovakia.
"As a woman I was interested in the romanticised narrative surrounding childbirth. I was able to spend two months on and off at the hospital and spend many hours observing the daily routine of childbirth.
"This year's Cambridge Festival of Ideas theme 'Power and Resistance' was an ideal time to show the work again, as the work discusses existing power structures in a maternity ward and how women often feel disempowered during labour."

The Maternity Ward exhibition is on show at the Changing Spaces Gallery on Norfolk Street, Cambridge, from 19 October to 1 November (11am-5pm).

Changing Spaces is an artist-led project in Cambridge that negotiates the use of empty commercial property for use by artists for exhibition and development purposes.