Created by Melbourne-based photographer Ying Ang, and recently published as a book, The Quickening is a series that explores Ang’s personal transformation during motherhood and her experience of postpartum depression and anxiety. The work interrogates the underrepresented transition of biological, psychological and social identity during a complex phase of life.
The title of the series refers to the term used to describe the moment the mother feels the baby’s movements for the first time during pregnancy. “You begin your life in expansion,” says Ang of her experiences. “From rolling to crawling to walking, your reach moves outwards from infancy through to adulthood.
“At the cusp of motherhood, everything instantaneously moves in reverse. Your world begins to shrink, to coalesce into the tight sphere of domestic life. What was once the sun is now the light in your living room. What was once the road becomes the hallway to the bathroom.
“Everyone you once knew becomes the squalling baby in your arms, suddenly unknowable, inconsolable and opaque in their needs and wants. As the external landscape of your old world shifts from mountains to lakes, the change also begins within.
“In increments, and then suddenly faster and faster, you become internally unrecognisable. The task of navigating this new geography, the new days and nights, how you eat, how you sleep, how you love – this seismic transition – is called ‘matrescence’.
“Matrescence begins as a kind of black magic curiosity – movement under the skin, growing and forming at will, the hurricane of birth, the electricity of the let down. The Quickening traverses the sudden landslide of one woman’s known world and the subsequent moving through rubble, trying to make sense of what is left, devastated and in love, and ends with a slow rebuild of the new territory of becoming a mother.”