Artist Margaret Kalms Raises Awareness of Endometriosis Through Art

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The “Our Bodies Our Blood” exhibition opens on Tuesday September 8 at Plan B, Halifax, Canada. ‘The Coast” article gives a good overview of the exhibition:
http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/show-with-the-flow/Content?oid=4904223

I’m one of the exhibiting artists, the “Australian activist Margaret Kalms”. Author Adria Young is right to call me an activist as I’m raising awareness of endometriosis through photography. You may be interested to know more about the meaning and purpose of my art photography.

‘Life with Endometriosis’ is an art photography project by Margaret Kalms that raises awareness by making endometriosis visible.

Endometriosis affects one in ten women, which is a similar frequency as asthma or diabetes, yet few people know about it. It affects women worldwide, so it is appropriate that an Australian artist chooses to raise awareness worldwide, including an exhibition in Canada, “Our Bodies Our Blood”.
Margaret recently showed her work in Canberra:
http://citynews.com.au/2015/photography-project-highlights-painful-hidden-illness/
and she spoke in April at an Information Day in Manchester hosted by Endometriosis UK:
https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/life-endometriosis

Endometriosis is caused by cells similar to the lining of the uterus, that can be found throughout the body of an endometriosis patient, and adhere to organs such as bladder, bowel, intestine, diaphragm and ovaries. These cells swell in response to normal hormonal cycle causing inflammation and debilitating pain. Endometriosis has huge impacts on women’s quality of life. It can cause infertility, chronic pain, reduced productivity and can exhaust the sufferer’s emotional and financial resources. Despite these enormous impacts, endometriosis is poorly understood. Margaret Kalms is raising awareness by making endometriosis visible.

‘Life with Endometriosis’ is authentic because Margaret’s photography is directed by how women with endometriosis describe the impacts of endometriosis on their lives. Margaret explains, “Previously, I’ve hired models to act out my ideas. Professional models are great and they do what I asked, but they cannot really know what endometriosis FEELS like.”

Margaret translates what the women say into visual ideas. This is a collaborative process where Margaret discusses the ideas inspired by the women’s experiences and they agree which ones to attempt. Then they have fun gathering props, acting out the ideas and taking the photos.

There is an authenticity and power in the resulting photos. These are real women who are enacting their own experiences and ideas. They know exactly how they felt and can ‘re-live’ their exact expressions. No model can do that.

‘Life with Endometriosis’ photos are Margaret’s photographic responses to what women with endometriosis have told her. You can follow the progress of ‘Life with Endometriosis’ here: Facebook.com/lifewithendometriosis

For help with endometriosis contact: http://endometriosisnetwork.com/about-us/

About the author: Margaret Kalms is an Australian art photographer who is passionate about raising awareness of endometriosis.