Poison herbs, handcuffs on a hospital bed, death threat voicemails the subtle but chilling exhibits in the photographers powerful show about abortion capture the horror of a largely invisible war on women
My project begins in the 19th century, says Laia Abril, as she guides me through A History of Misogyny, Chapter 1: On Abortion, her sometimes disturbing exhibition at the Arles photography festival. Back then, the problems facing women trying to control their reproduction were medical and technological. Now we live in a technological age and the problems women face are linked to politics and religion. But in many countries, where abortion is still illegal, they have to resort to life-threatening procedures. So for them, nothing has changed.
Although Abrils exhibition is not for the faint-hearted, she does not resort to shocking imagery or polemics. Instead, the show shifts between the personal, the historical and the cultural. It begins with her artful photographs of objects from the archive of the Museum of Contraception and Abortion in Vienna a condom made from a fish bladder, an array of surgical instruments and medical illustrations which s he presents as painterly still lifes, either singularly or in groups.
Read more: www.theguardian.com