Before giving birth, I had dreams that I had no bones in my body; I had dreams that my child was boneless. I dreamt of stacking warm babies into piles, racing to get the balance just right before I lost total daylight. I dreamt of earthquakes, which is, incidentally, exactly what birth is like: the material world momentarily shudders and opens wide to unknown and possibly devastating effect. Writing about birth is impossible because it has been determined too sentimental by a culture that undervalues female experience, and also because it is impossible to transmute a feeling so large into art. What if I tried to find a new vocabulary for it? What if I piled up mothers, unseen, under moonlight? What if I removed all of the bones from the picture? How can I put it: tenderness and resentment took turns eclipsing one another to near totality. Time passed vertically rather than horizontally, no longer broken up between day and night, but minutes and eternities. The body -- my body! -- once intact, came undone and labored its pieces back together in a new configuration. I am two months away from giving birth for the second time in three years, and I trust that pictures will both guide and fail me.
Carmen Winant is an artist and writer. Her work will be featured in Being: New Photography 2018 at the Museum of Modern Art; My Birth, an artist book with SPBH Editions, will be published concurrently. carmenwinant.com