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BY MARYAM AKRAM
The Motherhood and Identity exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery presents a series of raw images from eight different artists of raw images from eight different artists depicting real experience of motherhood. The model identity of motherhood relating to domesticity, gender and sexuality is brought into debate. Experiences of motherhood that don’t live up to our cultural ideal often seem to be taboo and our relationship with our mother seems intrinsic to our notion of personhood. Furthermore the eight artists including Janine Antoni, Elina Brotherus, Elinor Carcucci, Ana Casa Broda, Fred Huning, Leigh Ledare, Katie Murray and Hanna Putz illustrate that experiences of kinship vary widely and the importance of embracing such variety.
Elinor Carucci’s series of photographys stands in stark opposition to romantic images of Madonna and child. Whilst Carucci portrays the tenderness between her and her daughter, she also presents bold images of the effects of an emergency C-section on her body, addressing some of the uncomfortable aspects of motherhood. Additionally Carucci achieves a depiction of the sensuality that can exist between a mother and child, which is not often discussed. Elina Brotherus’s series perhaps is the most harrowing of the exhibition. Brotherus depicts the notion of motherhood as it applies to her in personal attempts to become pregnant. Infertility traditionally can hold many connotations of failure however Brotherus contradicts the idea that biology and motherhood are intrinsically bound. Implicit in Brotherus’s images are feelings of disappointment and pain, however interestingly standing in black text on the way next to her series is the quote, ‘it shows the understanding of the term ‘mother’ lies not with conception of birth, but with intent.
Janine Antoni’s series stood out due to the detail and skill that is evident in her pictures. Antoni depicts herself suspended motionless in a dollhouse, whilst a spider weaves a web around the house. The spider represents Antoni’s daughter and Antoni’s stature displays the central supporting role she plays in her daughter’s life
The exhibition Motherhood and Identity proved to be thought provoking. Its honesty and atmosphere of openness encouraged the viewer to question dominate conceptions of motherhood and emphasised it is simply ok to express a reality no matter how uncomfortably it sits with an ideal.
The exhibition ran from: 11 Oct 2013 – 5 Jan 2014