Sages femmes

This series was shot in the University Hospital in Rouen, after the birth of Charles Fréger’s first son. Charles was present at the birth and very impressed by the work of the midwives (sages femmes). Most of them were very young and seemed to Fréger to be dedicated to a mission beyond their years. It required specialised knowledge and an ability to distance themselves from the body, which, at first sight, seemed in strong contrast with their youthfulness. And yet they had a confidence and strength that he found impressive. He went back to the maternity hospital and took photographs of them by day and by night, in the labour wards, the incubators, and the maternity corridors. In its style and subject, the series has similarities to Pattes blanches, Liteau, and Bleus de travail. The subjects’ bodies and their skin make their presence felt in an austere working environment, with just a hint of pastel shades.