Shraddha Ranganathan

Life Giving / Death Bringing

Artist Zoë Buckman contemplates the dichotomy of the placenta


Champ, 2016 - By Zoe Buckman Champ, 2016. Artist : Zoe Buckman Image taken from the Art Production Fund website  , with gratitude.  Photo by Veli-Matti Hoikka.

With: Zoë Buckman

Giving birth is often seen as a beautiful, life-affirming thing. I imagine many mothers would agree, but they’d also talk about the violent side of the act. The blood and pain, the damage to the body and the mind, these are subjects that are (rightfully) gaining traction in the global conversation today.

So if delivering a baby can be spoken of in the language of violence, then you could think of the placenta as collateral. It’s referred to as an afterbirth, after all. British artist Zoë Buckman created a series of exhibits around the potentially destructive nature of the placenta, after being told that it had been the reason that she had almost lost her baby.

“Present Life” is an exhibition based on her placenta, which she had cast in plastic. The pieces use the placenta as a means to describe its different facets – lifegiving and death-bringing.

Her other works of art include the 2016 project Champ, a pair of neon ovaries donning boxing gloves, towering over Hollywood in response to the #MeToo movement.

Much of Buckman’s work features very personal art that tries to slightly upset the audience, to discompose them just enough to force them to think. However she also follows a theme of minimalism, to have a unique aesthetic that sets her apart from artists that seek to display blood and gore in order to catch attention.

In fact, Champ is part of a series named ‘Mostly It’s Just Uncomfortable’.