CALL YOURSELF A MOTHER
"You do not have to be clever, and you do not even have to think if you do not want to" in order to be a “good enough” mother. D.W. Winnicott.
This series of photographic portraits examines the ambivalent feelings and fantasies many mothers experience towards their children. The work unsettles idealized romantic portrayals of motherhood as found in Media and more traditional forms of representation.
Mothers often suppress these negative feelings, so they are not demonized by society. She can feel persecutory guilt, frustration and maternal depression as she strives to live up to the glorified cultural fantasy of maternal “at-oneness” (Parker 1995)
Each photograph becomes a space for performance in which various mothers act out feelings and fantasies of ambivalence for the camera. Referencing the Madonna and Child in Western Art, each image is cropped to focus on the mother’s hand and breast, so the loving gaze of the mother is disrupted. With this gaze removed from the viewer's inspection, the conventional portrait is overturned, and each woman’s expression is undetermined. The viewer is thus invited to question the mother’s identity in today’s society. Since the subjects remain anonymous, they cannot be accused of being bad mothers.
The dark background resonates with the dark thoughts and fantasies that emerge from the mother's mind, emphasized by the chiaroscuro. The negative space acts as a balancing element, highlighting the action, tension and drama of the hands.
My goal is to show a view of motherhood that is only seen behind closed doors. These are feelings that all mothers possess, but rarely publicly show.