The bag you came in

Gina Miller’s Family Tissues

Family Tissues is a tender documentary narrative in which Gina Miller introduces her sons to their own placentas, which she has thawed for the purpose of burying in the backyard.

We also see an elephant give birth, the whitish sac, the heavy plop as the baby slips out and falls onto the cement – then the great cascade of blood and fluid.

In this 6 minute video loop, Miller unwraps her three thawed placentas, like moose meat out of the freezer. Her younger sons, 6 and 7, hold their noses. One says it’s gross. The other seems more curious. Her eldest son, who is 13, sits in front of his computer and asks why she couldn’t have done this when he was 6 and could forget about it. Being 13, he says, he’s going to remember it for the rest of his life. Some of us think that’s not such a bad thing – to know what you’re from; to preserve and return to the earth the bag you came in. Your very own root structure.

(Photo by Henry Chan)

Miller spreads out one of the placentas, and smooths the area where the umbilical cord is attached. It does look like the trunk of a tree, with its roots spread out. Or a synapse. Or an aneurysm.  On a plate, they look like raw steaks. Miller has her sons each carry his own outside. Her eldest uses a shovel to loosen the dirt.

(Photo by Henry Chan)

She buries the three placentas in an old metal tub, and plants three new conifers. I did not save mine and I wish I had. It probably got incinerated with a whole lot of other hospital waste. It was a living thing that was part-me, part-my son, and I wish I’d kept it. It hurts me to think of its loss.

It is common in other cultures to keep and bury the placenta. Some people even eat it. At the end of the film, one of her younger sons is ravenously eating a bowl of Cheerios. He looks at the camera and says, Now shoo! And laughs. His work, for now, is done. The past buried.


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2 responses to “The bag you came in

  1. miguel invierno

    like moosemeat from the freezer! mw

  2. Pingback: art work by Gina Miller - vancouver mixed media artist ‘Family Tissues’, reviewed… »

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