The Wochenbett (literally translated as “week bed”) refers to the postnatal period directly after giving birth, when the health of the mother and baby must be carefully monitored, as both of their bodies adjust to the initial separation from one another. Lisa Edi produced a series of photographs in the days immediately after the birth of her son and portrayed other women before and after giving birth, which depicts aspects of maternity that are rarely seen outside the domestic setting. These images bear witness to the complexity of feelings that come with a new-born baby into a mother’s world: the loneliness that arises from desperately needing time to oneself; the dependency and vulnerability one experiences when one suddenly has another life in one’s hands.
Motherhood is often depicted as an uncomplicatedly blissful part of life, but in order for this image to be sustained, certain facts have to be obscured. In Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty, Jacqueline Rose writes that, “most bodily experiences of women from menstruation to pregnancy to menopause without distinction tend to be regarded as a form of debilitation or illness: too much blood and guts, bodies either too wet or too dry, bodies that inconveniently blur the boundaries between inside and out.” Photographs like those of Lisa Edi bring the unspeakable into view.
On soft, white fabric – usually a sign of perfect cleanliness and fresh smells – bodily fluids flow unimpeded and unapologetically. And yet the palette of pastel colours is not overwhelmed by the visceral realities of faeces, a cut umbilical cord and the post-labour figure. Instead, this photo series attests to relational resilience and a mother’s ability to withstand the violence of childbearing. As the photographer documents her own and other womens Wochenbett, she purposefully reassembles the image of motherhood to contain not only the soft skin and the saccharine sweet, but also the unpalatable and the inevitable – which, merely as such, deserve to be visible.
Lisa Edi was born in Schärding, Upper Austria in 1989. She lives and works in Vienna as an artist and photographer of fashion, portraits and still life. Having studied fashion and sculpture before taking her Diploma in Applied Photography and Time-based Media at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in 2019, she now works across and through disciplines, to enrich her diverse photographic practice. Since 2017, Lisa Edi’s photographs have been featured in numerous exhibitions, magazines and fashion campaigns.
Lisa Edi’s work combines a strong sensibility for the person or material she is taking pictures of and an intuition for generative encounters. Her images capture moments of intimate interaction between fabric, flesh, objects and light.