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    From abjection to natality: some thoughts on Helen Knowles' YouTube portraits

    Tyler, I. and Baraitser, Lisa (2013) From abjection to natality: some thoughts on Helen Knowles' YouTube portraits. In: Bowers, P. and Knowles, H. (eds.) Private View: Public Birth. London, UK: JKL Books.

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    Abstract

    Book synopsis: This publication was produced by Poppy Bowers and Helen Knowles to accompany Private View: Public Birth, an exhibition of Youtube Portraits by Helen Knowles shown at GV Art in London in 2013. It includes essays by Dr. Lisa Baraitser and Imogen Tyler, Janis Jefferies and Poppy Bowers which delve in to the topics which surround the work and seven full-colour plates of the art work in the exhibition. Social media websites have heralded an unprecedented wealth of homemade visual birth imagery. Accompanied by extensive personal correspondence between women, keen to share their knowledge and experience of birth, this online footage makes public what is often regarded as a private event: how does this alter our understanding of birth and our bodies? Drawing from a vast library of recent online birth videos, Helen Knowles appropriates imagery of women in the transcendental state of birth. Sourced from films posted on YouTube by women empowered by their experience, Knowles' striking prints attempt to unpick cultural attitudes to birth and probe the difficulty audiences may have with certain kinds of imagery. The exhibition presented the complete series of YouTube portraits which consisted of 7 large-scale screen prints. Using an innovative printing technique of exposing a screen with a digital projector, Knowles created images that oscillated between the figurative and abstraction. By selecting footage that portrays the women’s euphoria, Knowles captured the intense emotion through a heightened colour contrast, so challenged the separation between women as mothers and women as sexual entities.

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