In a quick sketch of a fetus
The thesis In a quick sketch of a fetus consists of personal stories and analytical writings about my artistic work with the fetus image over a fifteen-year time frame. It looks in retrospect at my first visual encounters with a fetus image as a child, then moves to my early drawings that depict the fetus as a singular form when I became a 'creative patient', to my later drawings that visually merge fetuses with phalluses. The aim of this autoethnographic study is to find out what personal and political role the fetus image played in my practice until now, and then use these research findings as a guide for my future practice.
This autoethnography is an intervention in feminist debates around the political significance of the fetus image which appeared first as a medical construction that was made possible with visual techniques. The fetus image and its usage has been criticized by feminist scholars as problematic for women's right to abortion. It is regarded as problematic that the fetus is positioned against a dark background rather than the whole body of the pregnant woman. The dark background is interpreted by feminist scholars as the mother. Questioning this feminist interpretation, I argue that the visual symbolism of the dark background of the fetus image should not be limited to one of the binary genders. What is the potential agency of this dark background? I propose an artistic interpretation of the dark background as an ambiguous space that can exist between and beyond the gender binary system.