Fertility in the Age of A.R.T.

Fertility in the Age of A.R.T. (Assisted Reproductive Technology) examines the current discourse in micro-managed procreation.  How do wealth, race, age, and sexual identity determine one’s place in this 21st century fertility ritual?  Like magic, pulling a sonogram out of one’s wallet transforms a fetus into a baby.  Seven-foot tall plywood storks sprout from the lawns of suburbia, boasting of successful procreation.  Ads in college news-papers entice egg-producing coeds to sell their well-educated ova.  Men’s sperm are extracted, tested, sorted, frozen, thawed, injected, rejected, sold by the vial, and—on a recent German reality television show—raced in organized competition.  The sheer volume of fertility-related images, advertisements, news items, and self-help books evidence a peculiar and powerful alchemy of culture, nature, and technology. 

Fertility in the Age of A.R.T. wryly combines photographs and text in order to reveal the clashing perspectives on contemporary fertility issues.   Nature, culture, and technology are represented by images of a virile bull, Easter eggs, sonograms, superheroes, and artistic allusions to human anatomy via plant life.  The technology of A.R.T. is visually referenced to images found in gourmet cookbooks by exploiting the obvious connection between human ova and chicken eggs.  Textual citations from novels, health books, government reports, and advertisements ground the images in the contradictory rhetoric surrounding human reproduction.  Each of the photo and text artworks in this project is a triptych printed on a single sheet of Hahnemuhle Photo Rag paper.

Idealized as a natural result of love and desire, procreation is often manipulated by medical, social, legal, and political institutions.  Fertility in the Age of A.R.T. uses humor and juxtaposition to consider this system that purports to produce better babies for worthier parents.

Fertility in the Age of A.R.T., 2005-06 © Jeanette May 

The photographs in this series are captured digitally and presented as archival pigment prints in editions of 10. Print size 20 x 40".