Baby VI

Artist: Heji Shin
photography | Inkjet print | 762x584mm | 2016

Heji Shin’s Baby photographs depict the act of birth, focusing, portrait-like, on infants’ heads just after crowning. Working with midwives to find women who were willing to collaborate with her, Shin has produced images that upset both the art-historical trope of the mother and child and the quaintness of commercial baby photography. These babies’ faces are purple, wrinkled, and disembodied—but nonetheless unmistakably human, even if they themselves are not yet aware of their own humanity, or of the photographer documenting their first moments. Shin, whose work also includes fashion and other commercial photography, pulls the viewer into close communion with her subjects, often frankly depicting such charged bodily subjects as childbirth and sex. Shin’s other body of work presented in the Biennial depicts Kanye West. For Shin, West, who is both adored and reviled, embodies the polarization of American culture. As such, her images speak less to West himself than to his celebrity role, serving as a public screen for the emotions, aspirations, and opinions of countless individuals. (Collection of Guy Bennett. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Bernhard, Zürich)


Whitney Biennial 2019 | 2019.05.17 - 2019.09.22 | Whitney Museum of American Art(New York City, NY, United States)