ben park: 250 pounds + my birth

my birth

On my last birthday, my mother told me my father, a pastor of a Presbyterian church, had been cheating on her while she was pregnant with me. During the affair, he told her the prostitue he had been with contracted HIV. That same month my mother walked to the hospital herself and gave birth to me. Learning about my birth revealed more about where I came from — why I was born premature, why my older sister had photo albums of her infancy and why I did not. While waiting for the results of his HIV screening, my father spent a week in a psychiatric ward, psychologically incapable of processing the ordeal. My mother had to walk to Flushing Hospital to give birth to me, I weighed just less than 5 pounds. The photographs were made at the sites where these troubling events leading up to my birth took place: where my father beat my mother for the first time, where my father was tested for HIV, the hospital where my mother gave birth to me. The old pieces of clothing that belonged to my mother and father was tossed in the air and captured by my camera. The process deals with learning how to confront and revisit the tumultuous events and where they took place. It became ritualistic to return and begin to cope and come to terms with the spaces that I have been familiar with but unaware of the trauma that my mother and father associated with them.


Two summers ago, I had a heart attack. I went to the hospital and told no one about it, not even close friends or family. At the time, I weighed more than 250 pounds. I refused to confront my body. I walked myself to the hospital after several hours because I was unable to process what had just happened to me. The series features abstractions to make my body unrecognizable, printed on different material like transparencies, Japanese Kozo, and Philippine Gan, as well as direct shots that are aggressive and intimate. The main foci of this work is the confrontation of my body, the act of sharing a secret with others after the immediate shock , and the meditation of how we interact with our bodies.

Ben Park, Class of 2013