At the time of that doctor visit, Kaddoura told The Atlantic Wire, "I was just out of my 20s thinking, I'm just building this life, building a career, working. It caught me off guard." The fact that this was her first real moment of realizing after years focused on trying not to get pregnant that there was a new side to this coin struck her—as did the fact that this was not something she heard talked about much in broader circles.
Inspired by that realization, she began to work on The Wonder Clock, a conceptual art project and "living, ticking, breathing piece" (as pictured above) that she showed at Art Basel on Thursday. It's also a website, TheWonderClock.com, as well as a downloadable app available on iTunes. On the home page of the site, which also launched Thursday, Kaddoura's own estimated biological clock ticks down, slowly but surely. It's currently at the 9 and a half year mark.
This may seem depressing, this sort of finite timepiece related to fertility, but the artist means it to be an empowering, enlightening statement for women and also for men, a way to inspire people to talk about the fact that there is an end date at which women can naturally have kids, and to make plans about what they want before they reach that date.
"We were raised like we can do it all," she explains. "I was raised very much equal to my brothers; I never thought there was anything differentiating me. [That doctor visit] was the first time anything came up that made me realize, you can't have everything. If you want to have kids one day, you might have to change a few things, or consider it seriously."
The clock is based on a "stop date" Kaddoura estimated by talking to doctors and calculating back from what's generally accepted as the latest childbearing age, or, as she put it, "the age that is pushing the limit of being able to conceive naturally." She admits it's not conclusive, nor is it accurate for everyone, as there are obviously numerous variables that go into fertility that even doctors don't always completely understand—but neither was it meant to be. Kaddoura told us, "It's not trying to come up with some scientific formula, because there is none." Instead, she hopes to open up the conversation, get people education about the topic, and make more information about it available.
When I asked Kaddoura whether she herself wanted kids, she responded in a way not disimilar to many a single thirtysomething woman I know, those with what you might call "agnostic" biological clocks: "I think, yeah. It's something I've always thought I'd do," she said. "It's something I've always thought would make life better. But I think luck has a lot to do with the way your life goes, and it's kind of one of those things that's out of your hands. You can have kids on your own or with a partner, there are so many different pieces as to how you want to do it. It's totally up to you how you choose to have them."