The persistence of oppressive gender norms encroaches onto lines that divide the personal from the political. Since childhood, women have been conditioned that their bodies are not their own. It is a possession of society and institutions: from the time one’s sex is identified to one’s mundane exchanges, to one’s hopes and dreams. Choices that move beyond, against, or even slightly awry from these mandates are often met with judgment, ostracism, and exploitation.
In sustained commentary of the female body set against the horizon of social conventions, Mich Dulce’s At Least I Won’t Regret Anything is a diaristic remembrance of her recent journey towards reproductive autonomy. With these artifacts, one becomes privy to intimate details of the process in regaining control of her own fertility. She shares the empowerment felt in re-asserting the body that is hers to begin with, as well as the apprehension, unease, and insecurity that came with it.
Much of Dulce’s adult life and career that has been centered on creation with the use of needles is ironically paralleled by that tool’s importance in fulfilling her childbearing dreams, alongside the need to overcome the fear of it, as blood tests and hormone shots were required by the medical procedure. Anchoring the process to the slender piece of pointed metal and grounded on her Catholic upbringing, she begins the story by choosing to recreate the first important garment in a Catholic’s life: the baptismal gown—a feminine piece that a child, regardless of gender, is made to wear during their welcoming to the Church. Here she integrates actual syringes used in the process of freezing her eggs. Excerpts from journal entries that document the intense triumphs, struggles, and doubts during this experience are sewn in cursive using pearls, as though accentuating a certain strength in its femininity. In the recreation of a baby mobile, these sheer robes float and balance themselves on bars above the head, a kinetic fragility that is concurrent to the workings of one’s body and mind. Enveloping the entire space, a haunting and exasperating sound, an ever-familiar nursery rhyme, plays on loop, indicating the seemingly perpetual insistence of a systemic order of how a woman’s life should be lived.
Dulce’s confessional bears its gravity in the truths about fertility and conception, where predominantly the woman alone carries its weight. Perhaps, as it is a norm and an internalized oppression, the possibility of choice is often forgotten. At Least I Won’t Regret Anything is an opportunity to engage in a much-needed conversation, a reminder: your body is yours.
Visitors are invited to take part in the installation by taking a ribbon from the cot and writing their personal sentiments on reproductive autonomy on them. After writing, please take a pin from the floor next to the cut and add this sentiment to the work by pinning it on the various hoops hang around the dresses.
Sound piece performed by Vega, produced by Tara Lim.