Issue 36 May 2024

Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Louis Stern Fine Arts
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Our Visuality: Abortion Care Work and Photography

Leer en Español

Five gestational sacs of five to nine weeks in one petri dish. Tissue removed using manual aspiration; weeks refer to gestational age. Image courtesy of MYA Network.

What is the visuality of abortion care? Though I am writing this text for a publication based in Los Angeles—once my home for many years—I have now lived in Columbus, Ohio for nearly a decade. As with many of its Midwestern neighbors, my state has been whittling away abortion access since long before I arrived in 2014 (in that year, Ohio had 29 clinics; now there are 10).1 As I write this in August 2023, our power struggle plays out in real time: Ohioans have gathered nearly half a million signatures, putting an amendment enshrining abortion rights in our state constitution onto the ballot. To threaten that outcome, Republicans have called for a special election to change the simple majority constitutional vote from 50 to 60 percent, a far higher threshold to pass.2 I voted on it yesterday; I sat down to start writing today.3

I teach at The Ohio State University in an art building that sits directly on the central open space on campus. Several times a month, I come into direct contact with anti-abortion activists there, stationed on the grass, kitty-corner from my place of work. When these folks are around, their presence is perennial: I encounter them multiple times a day on my way in and out of teaching classes, meeting with students, or getting coffee, and can often see them from my office window. “Have you ever been pregnant?” they ask me as I pass. Their strategies are familiar and consistent: Oversized poster board printouts of so-called aborted fetuses announce the protesters’ presence and are detectable from the length of a city block away. It is impossible not to be confronted with these images—given their scale and the graphic nature of their subject— which is, of course, the point. Still, I attempt to steer around them, refusing to make contact of any kind, refusing to tell them that I have had two children and one abortion in between, thinking all the while—while I am en route to teach photography a hundred feet away—just how successful they have been in weaponizing the same medium.

I wonder if they know of, or care about, Lennart Nilsson, the Swedish photographer who invented those types of in-utero photographs—that way of seeing? Oddly enough, I have used Nilsson’s photographs in my work, too, if to very different ends. Nilsson, who died in 2017, developed the photomicroscopic technology (using a wide-angled endoscope, tiny fiber optics, and electric flash) to make the world’s first photographs of fetuses floating in their amniotic sacs.4 Hyper-detailed and remarkably sensuous, the pictures are notable for the way the fetuses float in a vast world all their own, disaggregated from the mother’s body altogether.5 The photographs, long described as “cosmic,” were sent up on NASA’s Voyager space probes in 1970 and 1977 alongside music by Bach, recorded brainwaves, and pulsar maps, should the probe intelligent life. In the 1980s, Nilsson was shocked to discover that anti-abortion activists were using his pictures on protest posterboards. The irony is that across his decades of photographing in this way, all but one of his fetal subjects were either miscarried or aborted fetuses obtained from ectopic pregnancies (in which an embryo grows outside of the uterus, endangering the life of the pregnant person).6 In other words, the pictures were only made possible because pregnancies had been terminated to save women’s lives.7

In January, The New York Times published an essay titled “Early Abortion Looks Nothing Like What You Have Been Told” by the co-founders of My Abortion Network, a clinician-led organization. The accompanying photographs were of petri dishes atop a ruler, each containing early pregnancy tissue and uterine lining removed via aspiration procedures (gentle suction) during the first five to nine weeks of pregnancy. Dr. Jeffrey Levine, a professor of family medicine and director of reproductive and gender health programs at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, spoke of his experiences with fellows, residents, and medical students: “‘When we examine the tissue after a procedure, everyone is consistently surprised. They expect to see an embryo, fetus or at least some body parts, [and they are] underwhelmed.’”8 Photography has so long been strategically wielded as an ideological tool in the anti-abortion struggle that even doctors-in-training were caught off guard by the conflict between what they saw in their microscopes and the images of fetuses, embryos, and/or body parts in their cultural milieu, from high school textbooks to anti-abortion propaganda. Though there were only seven photographs in The New York Times article, each small and modestly shot, they exploded my image-based understanding of pregnancy and its termination, from Nilsson on down.

Pictures are powerful in this way. Intellectuals from Hervé Guibert to Roland Barthes to John Berger have differentiated photographs from all other art forms for their function to furnish depictive so-called evidence of truth and lived experience rather than interpretation. “The painter constructs, the photographer discloses,” wrote Susan Sontag in 1977.9 Like biofeedback, photographs can change our minds about our bodies.

In 2018, long before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision was leaked but decades into the slow and steady assault on abortion access, I began thinking about making a project that centered the question of visuality vis-à-vis abortion. Ohio’s then-Governor John Kasich (still seen by many as a “moderate” Republican) had signed into law one of the most restrictive abortion bills at the time, banning most abortions at 12 weeks with no exception for rape or incest.10 During that period, I was meeting a group of pro-choice protesters every weekend at the Columbus Statehouse. We circled the city block again and again with our signs in hand; I had my small newborn strapped to my chest, who slept throughout. As we walked, and occasionally were confronted by counter-protesters, I began to wonder: How might we countermand their photographic stratagem? What would that look like? What are the effects that only pictures can achieve?

Though it began to crystalize then, this is a question that I have carried, that has evolved along with me, for decades. I have long been interested in the visual material that attends and describes motherhood and birth, and am only beginning to understand the ways that abortion access and care work are a central piece of that practice—the ways that the right to be pregnant has everything to do with the right to be unpregnant. Like 60 percent of the women who get abortions in this country,11 I am also a mother, and was already a mother when I got an abortion between the births of my two children. We—those of us who gestate and feed babies from our bodies and bleed for months after birth—know most of all what it takes.

Human fetus in amniotic sac at 34 weeks. At this stage, all of the fetus’ internal organs are almost fully developed. The placenta is at the lower left. Image courtesy of TT/Science Photo Library. Photo: Lennart Nilsson.

Perhaps because photography has not historically been hitched to abortion rights (beyond the image of the wire clothes hanger), my frames of reference for abortion experiences in art were, and still are, largely non-photographic. I am returned in perpetuity to painters like Paula Rego and Juanita McNeely, and the poet and sci-fi writer Marge Piercy, who depict narratives of fear and indignant rage (“A woman is not a basket,” Piercy begins her poem “Right To Life”).12 Rego famously created 10 large Abortion Series paintings in 1998, after a referendum failed to legalize abortion in her home country of Portugal. The works, each of which pictures a single figure in a backstreet abortion clinic—many of them on single beds or improvised operating tables—are dark, confined, and dank-feeling. One haunts me the most of all: a muscular woman wearing a red bandana, sitting up with her back to the wall. She pulls her legs up, ready, and holds our gaze. The viewer is positioned as her illegal abortionist in a confrontational scene that is at once erotic and painful. I am so grateful for these works, which are unflinching.

As a person born in California in 1983, my experience with reproductive rights has been different than Rego’s, McNeely’s, and Piercy’s. Thanks to these brave artists, and so many women in the struggle, I inherited a world where, for the most part, abortion was safe and legal. My own abortion took place in a clinic with a physician rather than a back alley with God-knows-who; I went home a few hours later instead of bleeding out on a dirty motel floor. That perspective—of abortion care as safe and ordinary rather than trauma-laced—has informed the art I want to make about it. And in a larger sense, I believe that this is now our political imperative and site of resistance as artists: to normalize, rather than sensationalize, abortion care.

In August, I opened my first solo museum exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, a project that aimed to center the very regular (heath)care work that abortion doctors, staff, and volunteers undertake daily. My research—which took the form of collecting archival photographs from clinics as well as making images of staffers at work—offered me the great gift of getting to know and build relationships with these folks and their feminist histories. In this way, the project moved slowly, and with tremendous care. In other ways, it moved far too quickly: In just three years, the project had become a race against time, and against the right-wing political machine. The Dobbs decision leaked in May 2022, causing such ripples of grief in me that I had to put the work on hold for some time; the ruling was issued a few months later, officially overturning the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade in 1973 and Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. Clinics I was working with in Indiana and North Dakota began to shutter in real time. Over and over, I heard clinic staffers repeat a version of the same sentence: “We will provide the last safe abortion in ____.” (Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, fill in the blank). It struck me as the most resolute and elegiac phrase I could imagine. A matter of when, not if. Returning to the quotidian photographs I’d collected and made—of everything from staff birthday parties to sterilized medical equipment—I held onto this phrase, eventually giving my exhibition this title: The last safe abortion.

As an artist who makes a subject of radical social movement building, I am often ambivalent about what art can do. It is said that Rego’s Abortion Series, of which she created etchings so that images could be widely distributed, helped to persuade the national debate towards the legalization of abortion in the country in 2007.13 I desperately hope that is true. I do believe that visuality is a tool to be harnessed in liberation struggle, reproductive or otherwise; the anti-choice movement has been demonstrating as much, quite effectively, for decades. And it is not incidental that photography, a tool of visual evidence-making different from all other forms of visual representation, has been their weapon of choice.

While it is clear that photography plays a singular role in abortion care work, I still wrestle with art as an ideological and political solution to such an acute and urgent crisis. As I have gone about my project collecting and making photographs of abortion workers in their jobs, I have been amazed by the number of pictures of women answering the phone. (When I was in the clinics, I was likewise struck by the phones ringing off the hook.) Answering the hotline: It is such a basic act, isn’t it? The most banal and lifesaving thing, and, in some ways, the least photographic. But, as I stand there with a camera in my hand, I also can’t help but wonder: Will deliberately non-sensational photographs of abortion care effectively countermand the shockingly grotesque (and misleading) way that photographs are instrumentalized by the anti-choice right? And, in either case, why am I taking pictures of other women answering the phone, rather than answering it myself?

In addressing that question, I am reminded of the NGO Women on Waves, founded and run by the heroic and visionary Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts, which brings (largely pill) abortion services and education to countries with restrictive abortion laws by operating on a boat under international maritime law. Women on Waves—a mobile feminist empowerment and medical operation—also exists as an art project, using art as one of “multiple strategies to promote the message that women have fundamental autonomy over their own bodies.”14 The organization has participated in international biennials and exhibitions, delivered presentations at art summits such as Creative Time, and initiated a guerilla art installation at the Vatican. Their artwork often not only speaks to their mission and history, but also involves distributing abortion pills, sometimes using “abortion robots,” as they have done in Mexico, Ireland, and Poland.15 Women on Waves moves me greatly. By merging art and abortion access rather than using one to make art “of” the other, they have set an example for us. In making work about care, we can and must do the work of caring.

What is the visuality of abortion work? As ever, I can’t say that I know the answer. I can attest that I’ve found a way to make inroads into the question, entangled as it is with the politics of care itself. I am certain that it must center the representation of labor—of real people doing real aid work as opposed to fetus pictures which deliberately void the pregnant person. I am convinced that the volume of pictures matters, as we organize to build our own networks of widespread solidarity. And, as illustrated through the tireless work of Women on Waves, the task of representation must be coupled with action and groundwork. The reality is that these kinds of pictures—of steadfast women answering the phone, for example—will never shout as loudly as anti-abortion propaganda, but that is okay. In fact, it’s the point. Our visual vocabulary needs to reflect our ideological movements. As The New York Times story demonstrated, quiet, illustrative pictures have a germane place in this struggle as an ideologically cogent force. And so, I carry on: making pictures and, where I can and in my own way, answering the call.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 34.

Preterm, Cleveland, Ohio (2023). Photo: Carmen Winant.

Emma Goldman Clinic, Iowa City, Iowa (2023). Photo: Carmen Winant.

  1. Jessica Arons, “The Last Clinics Standing,” American Civil Liberties Union, accessed September 20, 2023, abortion/last-clinics-standing.
  2. Kate Zernike, “Ohio Will Vote on Abortion Rights,” The New York Times, July 25, 2023, https://www.nytimes. com/2023/07/25/us/ohio-abortion-rights-amendment. html.
  3. On August 8, Ohio voters resoundingly rejected the measure, keeping the 50 percent majority threshold in place. See “Voters in Ohio reject GOP-backed proposal that would have made it tougher to protect abortion rights,” The Associated Press, August 9, 2023, https:// amendment-special-election-227cde039f8d51723612878 525164f1a.
  4. “Behind the Lens: An Interview with Lennart Nilsson,” PBS, accessed September 15, 2023,
  5. Working alongside researchers, Nilsson used the technology to photograph the AIDS virus in 1985, making some of the first images of the virus. See “Lennart Nilsson,” The Embryo Project at Arizona State University, June 24, 2010,
  6. Charlotte Jansen, “Foetus 18 Weeks: the greatest photograph of the 20th century?” The Guardian, November 18, 2019,
  7. As we sought out permission to include a Nilsson photograph alongside this essay, his estate made good on that ethic, stating that they would deny rights to anyone who intended to use the images for anti-abortion purposes.
  8. Erika Bliss, Joan Fleischman, and Michele Gomez, “Early Abortion Looks Nothing Like What You’ve Been Told,” The New York Times, January 22, 2023, https://www.
  9. Susan Sontag, On Photography (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977), 92.
  10. Jessie Balmert, “Ohio Gov. John Kasich signs one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion bans; vetoes ‘heartbeat bill,’” Cincinnati Enquirer, December 21, 2018, 12/21/ohio-gov-john-kasich-signs-one-nations-most-restrictive-abortion-bans-vetoes-heartbeat-bill/2366674002/.
  11. More than half of abortion patients have already given birth to two or more children. See “United States Abortion Demographics,” Guttmacher Institute, accessed September 20, 2023,
  12. Marge Piercy, “Right to Life,” in Circles On The Water: Selected Poems of Marge Piercy (New York: Knopf, 1982).
  13. Hettie Judah, “‘These women are not victims’ – Paula Rego’s extraordinary Abortion series,” The Guardian, June 9, 2023, rego-extraordinary-abortion-series.
  14. Women on Waves, “Art Projects” accessed August 31, 2023, art-projects.
  15. Women on Waves, “Abortion Robots,” accessed August 31, 2023,

Carmen Winant is an artist and the Roy Lichtenstein Chair of Studio Art at the Ohio State University. Her work utilizes installation and collage strategies to center modes of feminist exchange and social movement building, with particular emphasis on intergenerational and multiracial solidarity. She is a mother to her two sons, Carlo and Rafa, shared with her partner, Luke Stettner.

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