Nora Heidorn, Touching Matters of Care ('Prorace' cervical cap, 1915-20), interactive digital object, 2022
Touching Matters of Care ('Prorace' cervical cap, 1915-20)
Birth Rites Collection
Launched July 2022
Touching Matters of Care ('Prorace' cervical cap, 1915-20) is an interactive digital work that appropriates and intervenes in a 3D scan of the ‘Prorace’ cervical cap. The cap is a barrier contraceptive from the 1920s that was heavily promoted by Dr Marie Stopes, the feminist pioneer of birth control in the UK, and an ardent eugenicist. The project stages the ‘Prorace’ cap and its attendant history of eugenic feminism as a ‘Matter of Care’: a complex thing that speaks of both care and violence, requiring our careful attention.
*FOLLOW THIS LINK TO EXPLORE THE INTERACTIVE WORK*
The project invites you to become proximate to this object by digitally handling it and to ask critical questions about its meanings. The cursor hand with which you can touch and navigate the cap wears a latex glove reminiscent of both the clinic and the archive. Thousands of married women from the 1920s onwards encountered the ‘Prorace’ cap in Stopes' birth control clinics, where they were fitted and learned to use it. Today, the cap and its related documents are encountered in museological and archival spaces that require similar protocols of contact and hygiene. Fragments from letters written to Marie Stopes in the 1920s have been embedded in the work.
This project was commissioned by Birth Rites Collection with support from the Arts Council England and was made with creative technologist Jinia Tasnin. One edition has entered the Birth Rites Collection. The edition is on sale on Opensea and Zora. 20% of proceeds from the sales are automatically donated to the charity Black Mothers Matter.
This project was developed out of Nora Heidorn's research for her LAHP funded Collaborative Doctoral Award between the Birth Rites Collection and the Royal College of Art. The original 3D scan of the ‘Prorace’ cap was produced by the Science Museum, London, where the object is on display in the Medecine Galleries. The cap is owned by the Wellcome Collection, London.
With thanks to Helen Knowles and Hermione Wiltshire for accompanying this project and to Jinia Tasnin for the creative coding.