Monday 00:10

Ruth C Hayes | 
2023 | 
United States | 
4:07 mins | 
A work of agitprop against the end of Roe and the evisceration of women’s right to choose.

In Hemmorhage, by Ruth Hayes, we are placed in the American context of reproductive rights. The haunting context of the last few years, the repealing of the landmark case Roe vs Wade that enhanced autonomy over reproductive rights in the US, is Hayes’ subject. Through the film we encounter a critique of the nation and the effacing, obscuring tendency of the written document.

Hayes’ chief critique of the repealing of Roe vs Wade lies in a historical understanding of the US’ nation-building. Principally we are introduced to sketched images of a wire hanger, streaks of red, here standing for blood, billowing in a jittering and scratchy manner from the hanger. Of course the red here stands in for the violence against women and womb/ovary having persons and the precarity of access to abortion represented in the wire hanger.

Hayes’ critique of the nation then takes hold. Inside the wire hanger appears white stars against blue. Thus, the flag of the USA is taken up, incorporating violence against non-male bodies into the national identity in the form of the red. Indeed, the wire hanger acts as a border defining the white stars against blue. Moreover, Hayes uses images of the Declaration of Independence to tie in the historical nation building of the US. The words “We The People”, emblazoned upon the top left of the document, produces a sombre note upon the realisation of the omission of women and womb bearing people from the collective pronoun that pronounces the nation.

This focus on documentation leads us to the pertinent critique of the film. Official documents of governance, those whose declarations and ratifications form motions of power against its inhabitants, exist at a distance from the affects of their words. This is represented in the disjunction between the formal, codified images of documents against the ever present bloodied wire hanger. Words here are more than just words, they are violent manifestations of political power and affect.