Flemish documentary filmmaker Lieve Blancquaert has probably witnessed more births than anyone in the world.
Okay, maybe besides the people working in hospitals at the maternity ward. But for two years, from Siberia to India, Blancquaert traveled around the world to capture the miracle of childbirth with her camera.
Blancquaert got the idea for her photo collection ‘Birth Day’ when she was in Congo. She worked on a documentary about mothers during their pregnancy. Over the years she came more and more fascinated by the birth of a child. Even though there are more than 364.000 childbirths a day, the differences are not hard to find.
‘Every child is born with it’s own life story. It has it’s own parents and family, culture, environment, place in the world and place in the future. It’s an occasion which provides me with very powerful, pure and always unique pictures.’ And the same questions always raises in her head: ‘Why do we actually bring children into the world? In what kind of world will they grow up? What is their story?’
Sometimes she finds it hard to look behind all the cultural differences she came in contact with. But, as she said: ‘In a nursery everything falls in their place. Everyone is very concentrated and works together. You get directly to the core of a culture. Thats why I came up with the plan to capture these first moments of a new life, all around the world.’
When you look at her collection, it’s striking how different one single happening can be. Blancquaert visited high tech nurseries, but also ones in slums to take that one picture.
It wasn’t always easy for Blancquaert to attend to a childbirth. For example, in Kuwait women are shielded from a birth. ‘But, when I explained to them what I did, the women where extremely friendly. I will never photograph the vagina. It’s about the situation and moments around a childbirth.’
The most special childbirth Blancquaert experienced was in Siberia. ‘I don’t speak Russian and the prospective mother didn’t speak English. She was alone, because the delivery was in a state clinic. They couldn’t afford to let the father be part of it, because you have to pay more for every extra person in the room. We where together for more then twelve hours without saying a word to each other.’
Out of the more than 50.000 photos Blancquaert took, she chose four hundred for her photo book ‘Birth Day’. In the book she also talks about her adventures and emotions during and after the photo shoots.
8 May Blancquaert opens a photo exhibition in Zutphen (Holland).
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