Birth's Child

Noel Harding

1973, 03:00 minutes, B&W, English


A naked woman sits facing the camera, holding an infant between her legs. The child has been placed facing the camera. It begins to squirm and cry, its nose runs profusely, but both mother and cameraman remain impassive and unresponsive. This quotation of the art historical and popular images of madonna/mother and child counters the traditional romantic vision with a portrayal of a more fundamental isolation. The mounting distress of the child, however, also tends to provoke an urge toward response on the part of the viewer, toward the child and against this particular enactment of a metaphor. The dramatically-framed image is edited in a series of rapid motion changes in the last few moments of the tape.

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Critical Writing

First-generation video
by Carole Corbeil. The Globe and Mail, June 14, 1986.
by Renee Baert. Vintage Video: Early Canadian Video Art to 1974, 1986. Toronto: Artculture Resource Centre, 1986.
Video Art 78
by Steve Partridge and David Hall. Video Art 78, May 6 Spring, 1978.
Structural Videotape in Canada
by Eric Cameron. Video Art: An Anthology, 1976. Toronto: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1976.