Coffee Talks: Tuesday, April 16 and Saturday, April 27, | 11am
Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York and the National YoungArts Foundation is pleased to present 2018 YoungArts | Baxter St Resident Corinne Botz’s solo show, Milk Factory at the 128 Baxter St Project Space. A sustained focus on space, gender, and the body is central to Botz’s practice. Past subjects have included miniature crime scene reconstructions, domestic ghost-sightings, the homes of agoraphobics, personal belongings left after car accidents, everyday objects instrumental in violent deaths, hoarding, objectophilia, and medical simulations. Visualizing lactation rooms represents a natural evolution of her interests. Lactation rooms are everyday spaces that embody deeply felt subjective experiences of motherhood. Symbolically and materially, expressed milk is a substitute for the mother’s physical presence and emotional intimacy when separated from her child. Botz’s photographs offer insight into women’s personal experiences, the maternal body’s status in the workplace, and fundamental socio-political issues pertaining to the family.
The absence of mandated paid maternity leave causes women’s return to work soon after giving birth, making pumping pervasive in America. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants feed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months after birth. Women must pump milk every few hours in order to continue to produce milk. Although The Affordable Care Act requires some employers to provide lactation rooms, only 40% of women have access to dedicated pumping spaces. Moreover, lacking secure, dedicated spaces, women pump in cars, bathrooms, utility closets, etc. Bodily expectations at work are at odds with the practicalities of lactating women, thus the production of a gendered and secluded space where the maternal body is banished. Pumping is sometimes considered liberating because it allows women to have more autonomy and participate in the workplace, but it also erases the intimacy of breastfeeding and bodily contact. Lactation rooms are an inadequate substitute for maternity leave.
In Botz’s photographs, the breast pump and baby photographs on cell phones, which women commonly view in order to stimulate milk flow, are surrogates for the child. Milk Factory reflects some of the ideological contradictions inherent in modern parenthood and government policies. The images are named for the diverse professions of the pumping women. The solitary pumping rooms take on collective power through the accumulation of photographs.
Corinne May Botz is a Brooklyn-based artist and educator whose work engages with themes including space, gender, trauma and the body. Her published books combining photography and writing include The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death (Monacelli Press, 2004) and Haunted Houses (Monacelli Press, 2010). Botz’s photographs have been internationally exhibited at such institutions as the Brooklyn Museum; Museum of Contemporary Photography; De Appel; Turner Contemporary; Bellwether Gallery; and Benrubi Gallery. Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, Foam Magazine, Hyperallergic, Bookforum, and Time: Lightbox. She has held residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture; Atlantic Center for the Arts; Akademie Schloss Solitude; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Mana Contemporary. Botz is the recipient of both the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Jerome Foundation grants. Botz is represented by Benrubi Gallery in NYC.
About the YoungArts | Baxter St Residency Program
This exhibition is the culmination of the second year of the YoungArts | Baxter St Residency Program. Baxter St invites emerging lens-based artists to apply for the residency that provides alumni of the YoungArts Program living in New York City the opportunity of a two month residency with workspace accessibility at Baxter St, access for one month to darkrooms at the International Center of Photography, an artist stipend, and mentoring sessions with 2-3 Art Advisory Committee members. The residency results in a two week solo show at Baxter St. As a resident in this program, artists will gain hands on experience, be counseled and supported by specialists in their field of study and work closely with Baxter St in order to present a solo show, which for most residents will be their first exhibition.
“Botz photographs the rooms right after her subjects finish pumping milk. She asks the women to leave everything as it is, and then they step out of the frame. Their absence leaves the viewer to focus on the objects and the spaces, which are often strange—empty cubicles, rooms with bare walls or thrown-together decoration. Botz names the images after the women’s professional titles or the places they work. “They all have these kick-ass jobs, even though they might be pumping in a weird bathroom,” Botz explains.”
“With her 4 x 5 film camera and digital medium format system, Botz has been invited into the varied spaces, some sanctioned and comfortable and others improvised and “multipurpose,” where women go several times a day to pump milk when working and away from their children. Her work engages with the mothers but, like most of her previous projects, is focused more on the often-overlooked details of the spaces we occupy, inviting the viewer to enter these rooms and gain an understanding of what they might signify to the mothers themselves and, of course, to ask us to recognize how we prioritize space for the needs of motherhood and, in turn, healthy families.”
The National YoungArts Foundation (YoungArts) was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify and nurture the most accomplished young artists in the visual, literary, design and performing arts, and assist them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development. Through a wide range of annual programs, performances and partnerships with some of the nation’s leading cultural institutions, YoungArts aspires to create a strong community of alumni and a platform for a lifetime of encouragement, opportunity and support.