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Sevdaliza pregnant Paul Kooiker photographer artist
Sevdaliza, 2021Photography by Paul Kooiker, Styling by Leendert Sonnevelt

A Portrait of Pregnant Sevdaliza by Paul Kooiker

In an exclusive portfolio of images, Dutch photographer and AnOther contributor Paul Kooiker presents a special project performed by Iranian-Dutch singer-songwriter Sevdaliza

PhotographyPaul Kooiker
Lead ImageSevdaliza, 2021Photography by Paul Kooiker, Styling by Leendert Sonnevelt

Artist’s Statement:

This is a critical view on the position of pregnant women in western society. When women are pregnant, they are constantly inundated with prejudices and expectations. It seems generally accepted that society may suddenly have a say on how you should behave, what you can and cannot eat, how you should raise your child in the future. Once you are pregnant, people stop meddling in their own affairs. Your business becomes public business – you are having a child, after all. Western culture permits a pregnant woman to be publicly commented on her appearance and given unsolicited advice in order to regulate her behaviour. The social obsession with pregnancy is simply another attempt to control the female body. As writer Renee Cramer once said: “the pregnant female body has gone from being an embarrassing reminder that women had sex and therefore private state of being to being considered public property of regulation and commercial property to be celebrated as sexy.”

Pregnancy also appears to be a hyper concept in the visual world, in which the media have made pregnancy into something visually attractive. A sensual photo of a proud, naked woman with a big belly on the cover of a magazine returns regularly. Pregnancy has become something to show off with, but within the standards of an idealistic beauty image. Pregnancy has nothing to do with idealistic beauty standards. However, it is unfortunate that to this day the pregnant woman is portrayed as an object of desire and beauty, which objectifies the ultimate form of a woman. It is, again, a social instrument to achieve the regulation of the female body. Since we have admitted pregnancy as an object, it has become a social instrument to achieve the regulation of the female body.

This publication is the counter-reaction to this phenomenon. Sevdaliza’s pregnancy is not used as a visual object to be enjoyed. On the contrary, the story shows actions in which she pushes through her own identity, by being everything she should not be as a pregnant woman. You may find yourself judging her in her role. Shouldn’t she stop her work as an artist now that she’s pregnant? Her new work shows the agency she still carries, even now that she is responsible for a different life. In this way the opposite of a culture that systematically demands access to the female body.

Photography: Paul Kooiker @ Mini Title. Styling: Leendert Sonnevelt. Hair and make-up: Laura Yard @ NCL Representation. Set design: Geijer Studio.