In Milk, I document breastfeeding - photographing bodies, while simultaneously coming to terms with my own as a survivor of rape, sexual harassment and body dismorphia. My objective in this series is an investigation of, and direct response to, the feminine ideal, and its representation of the classical body vs the carnival, abject body, and further, how commodification perpetuates fetishized perceptions of what a "woman" is or should be, while also recognizing that not all those who have the ability to birth and sustain life identify as such. In her essay “The Other Side of Venus, The Visual Economy of the Feminine Display”, Abigail Solomon-Godeau discusses the sexualization of the commodity within commodity culture, in turn inflecting the psychic structures of consumer desire. The image of desirable femininity simultaneously stands as the poster child and lure to the commodity. As the feminine image is desired and then consumed, it perpetuates the consumption by operating as a mirror of the initial desire- and so the story goes. While the light falls in a Chiaroscuro manner in Milk, conjuring up subconscious images of women in classical painting, the photographs attempt to reveal authentic experiences as opposed to the idealistic representation we have been taught to see throughout art history and pop culture.
Accessing the history of the individual or collective experience surrounding the reclaiming of agency over our bodies requires conscious (hard) work, and feminism cannot be oversimplified as an empowering mechanism that will deliver positive change without physical and/or emotional struggle. Milk is my attempt at grappling with the struggle in change - to look at this body that has been told what it should look like, and be like for so long, that we've forgotten it doesn't NEED to be anything at all. Through these photographs, I celebrate the grotesque body and reclaim agency over a form that can bleed, birth and sustain life, while rejecting the classical, feminine ideal and all the implications that it holds.