Extreme Pain, but Also Extreme Joy

Maggie Shannon, USA

Maggie Shannon, USA

Maggie Shannon is a photographer specializing in portrait and documentary work. Maggie tells stories of small communities and their social rituals in order to elevate marginalized voices and build a more inclusive world. Her approach is rooted in honesty, empathy, and endless curiosity. Hailing from Martha’s Vineyard, she received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in Photography, Video and Related Media and is now based in Los Angeles, California. Maggie was selected as a 2018 PDN Emerging Photographer and was named one of Magnum’s 30 under 30. She is a member of Women Photograph and her work has appeared in American Photography 35 and 36. Her first book, Swamp Yankee (2016), told the story of New England shark fishing.

Lockdown in Los Angeles in spring 2020. The hospitals are flooded with covid patients. In the maternity wards spouses are not allowed. Many women want to give birth at home. Without mask, with the fathers. They are afraid of the hospitals. They are in panic. The midwifes receive emergency calls.

In this situation Margaret Shannon decides to accompany four of these midwives. She is impressed with the calm and decisiveness of these women. With their experience. And she is elated by those moments when all the pain has been overcome and the private happiness simply drowns out all the knowledge of the global pandemic. Bodily contact in times of a contact ban! New life in times of the big death. Holding close. Embracing. Helping.

A father kissing his new-born, almost as if lost in prayer. It is a picture of a deep peace in a time of thousands of unpeaceful events. And in addition like a small pointer to Black Lives Matter, in a country that in 2020 was still governed by a president specializing in unpeace, in tantrums, gloating, contempt and slander. (Text by Peter-Matthias Gaede)

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