Before I fell down the rabbit hole, I didn’t know a woman could, or would, donate her eggs to an anonymous recipient for monetary compensation. It seemed extreme, like auctioning off one’s body parts or selling plasma, but once you start looking into it, it’s wrapped up in this pretty little package of philanthropic intent. I donated eggs because I found the experience compelling, and the money convincing, which is not an unselfish act… My Catholicism taught me that I should be a mother, preferably multiple times. This would define my subsequent worth and write my future. Because of my lifestyle, this could only happen as an alternative role I could play. Donating eggs allowed me to construct a dual narrative, as the mother I could be, as well as the children I might have.
Exploring her experience from the elaborate selection process to the regimens of injections, careful monitoring, and on through the conception of her potential unknown offspring, The Donor Project encompasses Carolin’s multifaceted response to the social, physical, economic, and emotional web of egg donation. Combining letters to the future with family photos, the artist reverses the clinical dating game that started with an answer to a Craigslist ad seeking “young, healthy, creative women of Irish descent.” In her print work for this presentation of The Donor Project, Carolin mines the print matrix as a means to explore the relationship of variation and original. Multiples of the original serve as an analogue for egg donation, akin to the process by which one genetic code encounters a myriad of factors that lead to entirely different outcomes.
At a time of intense international political debate around surrogacy, The Donor Project refocuses attention on the deeply personal experiences of lives and livelihoods bound up in medical fertility.
Documentary video by Rossella Laeng