The Museum of Sex announces its newest exhibition in collaboration with Laia Abril–On Abortion: And the Repercussions of Lack of Access. This will be Laia Abril’s first-ever solo show in the US, displaying her career-long research exploring the debate over abortion restriction worldwide. A special selection of antique medical tools relating to abortion from The Burns Archive & Collection, NY will also be on view.
Laia Abril’s new long-term project A History of Misogyny is a visual exploration of misogyny on a global scale through historical and contemporary comparisons. In her first chapter, On Abortion, Abril documents and conceptualizes the dangers and damages caused by women’s lack of access to legal, safe and affordable abortion. Abril draws on the past to highlight the long, continuous erosion of women’s reproductive rights to the present-day. Her collection of visual, audio, and textual evidence weaves a net of questions about ethics and morality, and reveals a staggering series of social triggers, stigmas, and taboos around abortion that have been invisible until now.
“Under “natural” circumstances, the average woman would get pregnant about 15 times in her life, resulting in 10 births. Seven of those babies would survive childhood. For centuries, people have searched for ways to delay or terminate pregnancy. Today, safe and efficient means of abortion finally exist, yet women around the world continue to use ancient, illegal or risky home methods: Every year, 47,000 women around the world die due to botched abortions. Across countries and religions, millions of women are blocked from abortion technologies by law and social coercion and are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will. Some are minors and rape victims. In violation of patient confidentiality codes, doctors and healthcare providers have been known to report women seeking illegal abortions, even when abortion is medically necessary to save the patient’s life.”
– Laia Abril
In the United States in 2017, nearly 1 in 5 pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, ended in abortion–an experience shared by almost 1 in 4 women. And yet, well over half of all women of reproductive age, nearly 40 million women, live in states considered hostile to abortion rights. In the past year, six US states passed laws banning abortions once a “fetal heartbeat” is detected—as early as 6 weeks—often before a woman discovers she is pregnant. Although the courts have largely delayed or invalidated these laws, the assault on American women’s right to an abortion has continued. Since the early 1970s, when an all-male Supreme Court legalized abortion on the basis of women’s right to medical privacy—and when more than two-thirds of Republican respondents to one poll believed that abortion should be left to a woman and her doctor—abortion has become a highly partisan issue exploited by political candidates. In Abril’s words, abortion has become “a political matter, rather than a question of rights.”
“Laia Abril’s careful global exploration of the past and present of contraception and abortion re-frames the issue, showing us that abortion is, first and foremost, not a political currency but a vivid lived experience for women around the world and throughout history. Abril’s work looks at the long struggle to obtain rights to family planning for women and demonstrates the complicated decisions women make when choosing to end a pregnancy, with their very health and survival on the line.”
–Lissa Rivera, Curator, Museum of Sex
About Laia Abril
Laia Abril is a multidisciplinary artist working with photography, text, video and sound. Her research-based projects focus on uneasy and hidden realities related to biopolitics and gender equality. After graduating in journalism, she enrolled in a 5-year artist residency at FABRICA, where she worked as a creative editor at Colors magazine. Her work has been shown and published internationally and is held in private collections and museums, such as the Musée de l’Elysée and Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, FRAC in France and FotoColectania in Barcelona. Her new long-term project A History of Misogyny has been granted by the Visionary Award from Tim Hetherington Trust and the Magnum Foundation; and the On Abortion book won the 2018 Aperture-Paris Photo best book of the year and was a nominee of the prestigious Deutsche Börse award in 2019. Abril is currently based in Barcelona.
About The Burns Archive & Collection
The Burns Archive & Collection houses the world’s largest private collection of early medical and historic photographs from the birth of photography to the atomic age. With over one million historic photographs, it is well known for providing photographic evidence of forgotten, unseen and disquieting aspects of history: death, disease, crime, medicine, racism, and war. Founder, Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, is Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, Medical Humanities, Obstetrics, and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center.