Networks of (in)visible labour in Lucy Beech’s ‘Reproductive Exile’

Networks of (in)visible labour in Lucy Beech's 'Reproductive Exile'

Ms Holly IsardZoom

The focus of this paper is a constellation of invisible workers who power a fictional fertility clinic in the Czech Republic, a popular destination for reproductive tourists and the setting of 'Reproductive Exile' (2018), a 30-minute film by the artist Lucy Beech. 'Reproductive Exile' follows the story of Anna, one of the many ‘intended parents’ who make the cross-border journey to access gestational surrogacy. While at the clinic Anna meets ‘Eve’, a bespoke techno-prosthetic programmed to perform her reproductive system– a mutual obsession ensues.

The film plays out as a documentary, disrupted throughout by an array of shots, ‘interruptions’, that reveal different moments in the fertility production line: horses farmed for their semen and urine, mice sliced open for hormonal experiments and a host of machines who mimic reproductive cycles, produce under-the-skin medical images and ultimately act to obscure the gestational labour of the surrogate.

Through documentary mode interrupted with looping visuals, screening technologies and reflections, Beech plays with sight, scale and personhood to blur the boundaries between human, animal and machine. In doing so, this paper will argue, 'Reproductive Exile' reveals a network of invisible workers who perform technologically enabled gestational labour and care work across global fertility chains.

London School of Film Media and Design, University of West London, UK
Fri 12:00 - 13:30
Maternity and Childbirth, Shame and Stigma
Standard paper