Elisabeth Ubbe

The Invisible Breasts

The Invisible Breasts is an exhibition and a photo book (bilingual English/Swedish) about breastfeeding and breasts. It started as a resistance project in 2013, when I started noticing that Swedish women who breastfed in public were beginning to be harassed. I realized there had been a shift in society and more control was put on women compared to when I was a child, when for instance everybody were topless on the beaches and public swimming centers. I never thought that being topless on the beach would be a strange thing (though I know things are different in The US) and I remember being topless together with my mother and grandmother who were also topless. But now I understood that something was shifting; little girls has become ashamed of taking showers with their class mates after gymnastics at school, breastfeeding rates are decreasing in Sweden and the “beauty surgeries” are increasing.

I was also concerned about the common, often very romanticised image of breastfeeding women. I fgured we need role models to identify with, more than we need untrue and “impossible-to-reach-ideals” so I asked the women to pick a situation where they would normally breastfeed and made the picture in that situation. The situations vary from breastfeeding while bicycling, while buying groceries or visiting the shopping mall,or while playing the violin in a summer party. Every picture has it´s own story as has every woman in the project.

At every opening of the exhibition I invite the visitors to become part of the exhibition and have their own breastfeeding picture taken by me, during the opening. Therefore the exhibition is slowly growing with every new opening with the goal to tenfold the number of pictures and make a new photo book. I regard it a resistance movement to put light on which pictures of (breastfeeding) women are shown in society and how social structures can hinder or promote women and children of being in public space during the breastfeeding period.

About the Artist

Artist Website

Elisabeth Ubbe is an award-winning photojournalist whose work focuses on women’s issues, equality, social justice and sustainable development.

Elisabeth graduated from the Nordic School of Photography in June 2016, after a long career as a midwife. Elisabeth’s work has been published in widespread national and international publications and media. She works with newspapers such as the New York Times and Dagens Nyheter and has been part in a global campaign to diversify the media image of women, with Getty Images.
She has reported, among other things, about the drug war in Mexico from a woman’s perspective, about gender equality work in South Africa. And from Turkey on the border to Syria, about girls and women sold as co-wives to Turkish men and about children who have been IS recruits.

In 2014 she produced and released the exhibition and photo book The Invisible Breasts, about breastfeeding and breasts. The work has been shown in several places in Sweden and also in Denmark, Finland, Mexico and in the US. Elisabeth has written a book on female genital mutilation and has produced an exhibition with pictures and an audio story on the subject. She strives to highlight issues that are tabooed to create conversation and room for change. In 2018, 2019 and 2021 she has presented work at the UN Women´s Conference in New York (2021 online). On May 4:th her most recent work; The Power of Love exhibition, with more than 100 images of empowering birth, opens in Arbetets Museum in Sweden.