When it comes to the topic of pregnancy, idealistic ideas often appear: for example, a woman immersed in herself and caressing her stomach, feels deep satisfaction. They are images in which the nine months leading up to the birth resemble a continuous orgasm.
Painter Dorothea Hopper knows from her own experience that this is only half the truth. In her comic “From the Mother’s Mouth” (Jaja-Verlag, 100 pages, 20 €) Emotional states, physical changes and different experiences are summed up in amazing and eerie graphics, from positive pregnancy test to giving birth. In mostly full-page or double-page photos, you take special moments and summarize them succinctly and often humorously.
First of all, it is about processing news about the life-changing event, as well as from the immediate environment. The reactions are very different: while one friend sees the expected offspring as a competition, while another now sees the association with a larger waist circumference, the kung fu master takes the event to a meta level: “That’s good. Very good. You will lose your ego,” he sums up. Another refers to Rosamunde Pilcher’s novel.
What begins with a somewhat abstract message becomes more realistic as the pregnancy progresses. Hair loss, skin problems, stretch marks, and water veins in the legs play their part.
Many of the photos in which Heber deals with changes in her body and the effect of hormones are funny. With an increased waist size, she urinates like a dog – in the graphic juxtaposition, the animal also appears to be enjoying her sight. Or give a particular example of binge eating so often at night: when sleep comes faster than expected and the sandwich sticks to the eye all night long.
“He was so nice to me”
This also makes her boyfriend think: “He only got worried when I woke up with cheeseburgers on my face,” written next to it. Once again I fall asleep from extreme fatigue in the middle of a horror movie.
The fact that pregnancy is not just a time of quiet anticipation is also reflected in the photos. Because graphically it is the maximum degree of disorder. Huber has her own unique way of visually conveying her experiences. With bright colors and many collage-like elements, she draws oddly shortened and distorted shapes. With their powerful presence, they take up whole pages. It’s amazing how she manages to convey her emotional states with a few powerful strokes, often remaining rough and striated.
[Von Pubertät, Lust und Verhütung, Kinderwunsch und Kinderkriegen: Der Tagesspiegel-Podcast „Gyncast“ ist die völlig unzensierte Sprechstunde mit Frauenärztin Dr. Mandy Mangler. Sie finden ihn unter anderem auf Spotify und Apple Podcasts.]
In this way, the painter finds a special way to express her strange fears and dreams. Worrying about great responsibility and losing her old life and independence became part of her world of ideas.
This is grotesquely depicted in a powerful metaphor: the protagonist is lying motionless on the ground, cut off by its limbs. While a child and a friend, each happily and proudly clutching one leg, completely take it to themselves and make it impossible for her to live her own life. At night you dream that you give birth to a foal.
[Weitere Tagesspiegel-Artikel zum Thema Mutterschaft hier: Fast Food ist bei Papa lustig, bei Mama pfui, Das Drama der begabten Tochter, Comics aus Berlin – von Eltern gezeichnet.]
Some of the photos are touching, like the one on the approaching end of pregnancy. She bends her head down in front of her spherical belly so that it looks as if she is looking directly at her unborn baby, who has already been flipped in the womb. “It has been wonderful to me,” Hopper wrote, “afterwards, the birth as the epilogue leads to an astonishing explosion of faces, shapes, colors, and shapes.”
Through the illustrations, Hopper laughs a little, but her photos also make you think and show that being a mother not only evokes positive feelings in you. The fact that this can also be said, the questionable critical undertones as well as the joy in them, shows how perception changes in society. Dorothea Hopper does her part.