Back to the Womb

Hong Kong Media Graduate Evokes Life as a Foetus in Photography Series

Ever wished you could relive moments from your past? How far back would you go: your crazy college days, playground antics, or pre-school? What about going all the way back to before you were born? Hong Kong-based multi-media artist Manchi Cheng’s series Spoiler conveys the mixed foetal feelings of protection and emerging into the world.

“It all begins with existentialism which infers the relation between body and existence,” says Manchi. “The foetus in the mother’s womb is associated with the very first existence of the body. Therefore, I used different props to recreate this state, focussing on different parts of body.”


There’s a certain eerie uneasiness about the images, reminding us that whilst life and our bodies are a gift, the process of childbirth is fraught with peril and life is ultimately extremely fragile.

Manchi told us more about birthing to this latest project.

The Plus: Is there a feeling/message you were aiming for to carry forward through this series? How did you try to achieve that?
Manchi Cheng:
Actually, I only wanted to recreate the moment a physically structured body comes into being. The purity of existence and the status between existence and non-existence is the concept. To visualise this, I used a semi-transparent liquid to blur the body parts.

TP: Did the process throw up any unique challenges?
Cooperating with my model was the most challenging thing about the project, because he is afraid of water. It was hard for him to keep his breath in the water for as long as was needed to get one of the shots. We had to do everything quickly to ease his discomfort.

TP: Could you explain why you named the series ‘Spoiler’?
I wanted to create a similar atmosphere as the foetus being in the placenta. The relationship between mother and foetus is one of protection and maternal love, which interested me. Every baby should be spoiled by their parents. Thus, I named the project “spoiler”.

TP: Your portfolio is very broad, encompassing food styling, event photography, graphic design and videography. How do these professions influence your work?
Trying different combinations of media has always been a hobby of mine. I consider media such as photography, graphic design and videography as connected because they all attempt to communicate through visual impact. I am always looking for ways to help me communicate clearly with the public.