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The Artist Exploring the Long, Strange History of Birth Control

Sarah Alinia Ziazi illustrates the complex history of birth control in her series ‘Miscontraception.’

In her series Miscontraception, artist Sarah Alinia Ziazi illustrates the “many obscure and bizarre methods people have used to avoid conceiving a child.” She combines a bold, Pop-art style with an absurdist view of the ineffective, albeit creative, history of birth control.

“Women have used lemons as diaphragms, and douched with Coca-Cola to kill sperm. Men have used pig intestines as condoms,” Ziazi says. Each illustration highlights a different method, but it’s not immediately obvious what’s going on. The images take a while to visually unpack, making the viewer’s gaze linger longer.

These archaic approaches to family planning may seem ridiculous to the modern viewer, but in light of recent conversations around women’s health, Miscontraception is also uncomfortably relevant. Ziazi uses the historical context of contraception to question the enduring modern-day stigma around it. Will lack of access to modern birth control make these difficult, ancient methods feel relevant again? Combining a sharp sense of anxiety with an unsettling sensuality, Ziazi captures this concern in her work.

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