Vanessa Braunstedter is a former nurse from France. In 2021, she decided to stop her medical career and devote herself to her other passion, photography.
“I define myself as a collector of life moments”
GueRRir, 2021, black and white photographs, combines two French words “guerre” (“war”) and “guérir” (“to heal”). It expresses the war-like situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and pays tribute to both the medical staff and patients. Up until 2021, Vanessa was a nurse who was a participant and witness to the endless challenges, the extreme exhaustion and anxiety at the hospital in Mulhouse. Her photographs show the strength and softness of her subjects and reminds us that despite these challenging times, we have the tools and capacities to transform our lives.
Women of science have often used crocheting and clothes stitching to help understand complex scientific processes and facts. This was the case of pioneering French midwife Angélique du Coudray (1712-1794) who created a mannequin of textiles to teach trainee midwives on all steps of properly attending childbirth. At that time, female midwives were barred from medical studies. In 1759, du Coudray published a midwifery manual “Abrégé de l’art des accouchements” illustrating important manoeuvres to preserve the safety of women and their new-borns at the moment of birth.
Her trainees practiced various manipulations in mock births on the life-size obstetrical mannequin and were well prepared to handle dangerous situations, such as with twins and breech presentation. Du Coudray succeeded against the opposition of male surgeons when Louis XV recognized that she was instrumental to reducing chid mortality and commissioned her to travel across France to teach the art of midwifery. She taught thousands of students and even male medical doctors and became a symbol of French medical progress.