The sculpture wasn’t quite a mandrake—the stalk sprouted not from the baby’s head, but from its navel, like some teratogenic umbilical cord—yet it may as well have been screaming all the same.
I remember the other works, too—the neatly planned city of disembodied limbs, the montage of crows, the mechanical dragonfly beating its glinting wings—but this one caught my attention. A meter of pale, sanded wood, part of a larger series of animal-plant hybrids that the guide passed over on her tour of the gallery highlights.
Maybe I just have high sensitivity to babies. At my age, when my peers are only a couple years away from having their own, they terrify me: capricious beasts who experience and express pain so viscerally, who demand more attention and money and energy than anyone could give. Older people tell me they are bundles of joy, but I see only parasites that drain away the happiness in life.
Parenthood strikes me as at once the most selfish and the most guilt-ridden act one can commit: the arrogance to deem oneself qualified to beget a new being, and the eighteen years that follow of trying to atone for that original sin. I think of the great pains society takes to avoid a pregnancy, and wonder at what point the mentality switches.
No one in my immediate circle is contemplating a baby yet, but when someone does, I will bring out the objections full force: hold off on childbirth. The family can wait. Let us have a little longer before you thrust an infant, shrieking and indignant, into the world.
The brainchild of billionaire philanthropist Judith Neilson, the White Rabbit Gallery spans four floors dedicated to 21st-century art from China and Taiwan. Exhibitions change twice a year, showcasing selections from Neilson’s roughly 2000-piece personal collection. Gallery tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. provide fascinating context to the works.
30 Balfour St, Chippendale
02 8399 2867