Lauren Carroll Harris details her winter writing and research projects in Paris.
The Power Institute's residency enabled me to deeply research the representation of breastfeeding and pregnancy in art and film. This arena of thinking is somewhat understood by scholars, but has not been considered as an area for the broader public, written in an accessible literary fashion of cultural analysis. The Institute's studio at the Cité was the ideal base from which to consider much of the ground zero of the Western canon, and I ended up gathering material at the Louvre, Musée Picasso, Musée D'Orsay, the Cinemathéque, the Bibliotheque Nationale France and Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. Unbridled access to these spaces showed me that art history has, for the most part, shown nursing by divinities, queens, ladies, deities and mythological and biblical figures, but few images of ordinary nursing women or images generated by women artists themselves. Out of this accumulation of examples, I'm working on a book proposal of narrative art criticism that will consider how images of pregnancy and breastfeeding allow us to think about privatisation and collectivisation.
I also came upon a secondary arena of writing and research: the challenges for French museums in the current global conversation about the postcolonial purpose and nature of collecting and exhibition-making. I am currently seeking publication outcomes for both these areas of work.
This immersion in the international city of Paris has also allowed me to de-Australianise my thinking, away from the highly national lens encouraged by university study and editors here, particularly given what I learned of France's divergent history of breastfeeding paintings in visual art following the Enlightenment. All of this marks a serious conceptual leap forward in the ideas and forms I'm working with, and, I hope, equipped me to make a new and original contribution to knowledge. Thus, the residency enabled the generation of ideas and practical material for my book project that I would not have made in Australia, and I believe it will set me on a new, fertile course in my writing practice for the next period.
Lauren Carroll Harris, January 2024
Image: Honoré Daumier, La République, 1848. Collection of the Musée d'Orsay.
Lauren's desk in Paris.
Isidor Stanislas Helman after Charles Monnet, La Fontaine de la Régénération sur les débris de la Bastille, le 10 Août 1793, 1796-97.
Lauren Carroll Harris
Lauren won the Terrence and Lynette Fern Cité Internationale des Arts Residency Fellowship in 2020 and due to Covid was not able to take up the residency until 2023. Lauren’s stay at the Cité will serve a two-fold purpose: first, in her curatorial practice, she will prepare the fourth program of Prototype (an innovative commissioning platform, which delivers new video art and experimental short film to audiences by email newsletter, of which she is the founding curator), linking up with Australian artists in Europe. And second, Lauren will use her time and space to work on two longform pieces of non-fiction for publication in two overseas magazines, to aid the long-term international development of her writing career. Her current writing projects focus on the representation of pregnant women in cinema and the afterlives of empires.