Self-published, 2021. Edition of 280 copies. Softcover with linen sleeve, French fold, various uncoated papers, offset and riso print, 90 pp., 116 illustrations, 218 x 279 mm. Photographs by Ying Ang. Design by Heijdens Karwei.
The Quickening explores the transformation and lived experience of a woman in her motherhood/matrescence and postpartum depression/anxiety. The work interrogates the under-represented transition of biological, psychological and social identity during a complex and yet ubiquitous phase of life.
You begin your life in expansion. 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 unrecognizable. 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 “matresence”.
The beginning of 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 letdown. 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.
Finalist for the Vevey Images Grand Prix for 2019
Julia Margaret Cameron Award Honorable Mention for 2019
Winner of the BIFA Documentary Photo Book Prize 2020
Finalist for the Lucie Foundation Photo Book Prize 2020
Tokyo International Foto Award Honorable Mention for 2020
Official Selection for the London International Creative Competition 2020
Finalist for the Perimeter x PHOTO 2021 International Photobook Prize
Winner of Belfast Photo Festival 2021
Px3 Paris Photo Award Honorable Mention for 2021
"The Quickening wears its handmade-ness on its sleeve. A ream of loose papers held together with a complex patterned variation on a Japanese stitch tells the reader that this is a personal and intimate document… The cacophony of imagery we are presented with oscillates between the manic, the incredibly dark, the gentle, the dreamlike and the intimate… Ang’s book is an exploration of photobook making, and how narrative works in the visual book form—it pushes and stretches concepts of storytelling, of showing and revealing. And finally, it’s a moment of total honesty and openness told in the only way it could have possibly been told." Lensculture
"Work like Ang’s has such profound value for articulating hard-to-reach experiences that language often fails to capture. She entangles the viewer in the web of social and political issues surrounding the transition into motherhood that are too often ignored and overlooked... The psychoanalyst Carl Jung wrote, “only the paradox comes anywhere near to comprehending the fullness of life” – a sentiment that manifests in Ang’s book over and over again" — Creative Review
"Ang’s images are carefully composed and meticulously photographed, showing a mastery and deft use of photographic technique. She uses a wide range of tonality, lighting, contrast, and printing methods to produce different textures and moods, as well as many unexpected transitions from page to page. Many images burst at the seams with symbolism and layers of meaning, resulting in work that rewards repeat viewing and contemplation." — Paper Journal
"The pictures in The Quickening are a gorgeous cacophony of tender and tension-filled scenes interwoven with moments of luminosity which show how easily the lightest moments of motherhood can slip into the difficult ones (and back again). There’s a softness to the pictures, too – a dreaminess that feels like the first moments of waking up, where everything is a little blurry and sleep images linger." — Refinery29
"Ang’s depiction of matrescence is layered and complex. Her images blend the gentle and soft, with a strain and rawness that becomes all-consuming. Velvety skin is enveloped in warm, delicate light. But, motifs of that tenderness behind misted glass at once suggest fullness and a claustrophobic repetition. The narrative is textured and sensual; it mirrors the intensity of Ang’s lived experience." — The British Journal of Photography