femmes enceintes; maquillage corporel; photographie; exposition photographique; livre

Letter from the Interior

At the onset it was probably a look exchanged, an unconscious attraction or just pure chance. In any case desire was needed to unite you man and woman, sperm and ovum, for my life to begin. You managed to find each other, to unite, to dissolve one into the other, to mix your lineages, the ultimate association of messages and genes recombined ad infinitum generation on generation, in the families of my ancestors from the beginning of time.

In certain cases things were more difficult, one went from expectation to incomprehension and frustration, and a therapeutic hand guided the sperm and ovum towards each other. It is even possible that one of the two was missing, but your love and your desire were stronger than all the rest, and the missing cell was gifted you, so that I could exist with you and for you.

In this quite complex schema, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to identify the precise moment and fashion of my origin, but no matter, I am here and I exist.

Yet, however you take it, my beginnings were quite uncertain, for I floated in my mother's fluids, with no attachments and no way of locating myself. When the sperm penetrated the ovum, it activated the programme of my life, though for the first two days I stayed constituted almost exclusively of substances from the maternal side. At best one could say that it was a bit of my mother, which functioned in me, awakened and stimulated by my father. I had this strange impression of not being myself. Was I one or several? At this point my cells could have separated and made two of us, but it so happens that I am the one.

The third day my genes, those that are really mine, woke up, and began to organize everything. Their first task was to start the production of all the substances that would
constitute me and would be necessary for my development. At the end of the first week, thankfully it was all done, for the maternal reserves were almost completely exhausted.

This development, this construction of myself risked being so extraordinary, so immense that my autonomy allowed me not the means to assume the responsibilities alone. I imperatively needed help, a source of energy, a source of life. I therefore started making these special cells to hitch myself to you.

On the seventh day I was ready, and seeing that you had decided to welcome me, I came out of my shell to implant myself in your uterus wall, where we started a dialogue about our needs, desires, aggression, strengths, weaknesses, and contradictions, a dialogue as critical as the most difficult international negotiations. With you I managed to construct this frontier, this zone dedicated to free circulation and exchange of goods and fluids, the placenta, which nurtures me so long as I am inside you, and without which I would not exist. It was not a simple affair, how could you tolerate this other inside your very being. This other who would take so much from you only to leave you one day, to become his or her own master. Evidently your body could have rejected this foreign body, but you understood that accepting me was a way of accepting life, my life, your life, and you kept me.

Once I was embedded inside your womb and we had agreed upon our rules of cohabitation, I needed to take care of myself. I had kept aside a number of cells; those famous stem cells that one hears so much of. I don't think I need to justify myself, these are the very cells that made me. Since the task before them was immense, they kind of doubted they would be able to go it alone, so they transformed themselves to two and then to three. They managed to create the three fundamental tissues, the three materials necessary for the construction of my body.

As in all building-sites the materials were stacked and piled up all over the place, and then quite quickly they began to play with each other to give me form, to construct me and to create all the different parts of my body.This genesis was a new and intensely seething adventure, with all its incertitude, hesitations, errors, and apparently in the most dramatic disorder. I finally knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go.

Where I hesitated the most was on my gender: should I be a boy or should I be a girl? Both propositions were so attractive that I wouldn't have minded being one and the other. Refusing to choose, I made myself primitive genitalia, which left both possibilities open. I wouldn't have minded continuing in this direction, when without warning the history of my species imposed itself on me. No future without sex. One has to choose. So at a signal transmitted from the Y chromosome, if I possessed one, my gonads would turn into testicles whose secretions would inalterably turn me into a male. On the other hand without this signal or this signal wrongly timed, I naturally became a woman, for if we reflect deeply, isn't femininity the natural foundation in each and every one of us?

Whatever it may be, things progressed thick and fast and in two months everything was almost settled. I was completely formed. I was whole. Certain of my organs like the heart were already quite active, while others like the lungs remained at rest, and others yet like the brain settled into a process of slow, progressive maturation; but in any case all my organs existed.

I was just two months old and I had already turned from an embryo into a foetus. Henceforth all that was left for me to do was to grow and become apt at making my way in life alone, outside of you. From this moment on your body too began showing signs of profound change, my presence inside you became visible and we started attracting looks, questions, comments and some times some people's envy. The beauty of your body was magnified and held up to all to be seen and admired.

Could you imagine that certain people would propose artificial uteruses to save us from this miraculously magic moment of our existence? Could one imagine the world without this beauty? Welcome to Life!

Pierre Jouannet

Prologue   Photos