Annonciation 9, She would go to Anne-Sophie’s school, 2011
Pigment ink print on barytha paper from digital original mounted on aluminium and framed
30 x 38 cm
Edition of 6
This a story of false annunciations, about waiting for an angel who never shows up. First we don’t know if he’s there, because he could just be hiding behind the doorway. Gradually it becomes clear that he’s not coming.
Of course the angel is a metaphor because I’m not religious and I was going through five years of infertility treatment. What we learn about the subject in the media - documentaries, interviews, articles and TV programs on infertility - they all have a happy end. In reality, the success stories are rare, but they are the ones we hear of. For the rest of us, this biased broadcasting is upsetting. It’s as though the general public should not see the inconsolable reality but instead a cathartic ‘per aspera ad astra’ Hollywood story.
When in a treatment, one’s imagination is quick. One thinks of names and which school the child will go to. When the treatment is unsuccessful, it’s not exaggerated to say it feels like mourning someone who died. The loss is very concrete. Not only does one lose a child, one also loses a whole future life as a family.
Annonciation addresses a topic still very much a taboo: that of involuntary childlessness. With this work Elina Brotherus returns to the autobiographical documentary she became known for in the late 90’s. We follow her through times of alternating hope and deception, with the intercepting calendar pages showing that yet another year has passed. Annonciation gives a voice to a surprisingly large number of women and men whose experience is rarely articulated in art or in life.