Maternity in art is deeply ingrained throughout western history. Celebrated and channeled through the male genius, painters representing the sacred mother have set up a context within which most subsequent imagery is understood. Maternity, as lived experience, being uniquely female, is ubiquitous and marginalised simultaneously. Cultural and social discourse expressing dominant ideologies inhibit personal experience, leaving individual women to repress any improper feelings such as shame, confusion, desperation, self reproach and anger.
As a mother of three boys aged 17, 11 and 2 I work with and through maternity to subvert dominant ideology and open up space to express a subjective maternal position. In my practice I think of my children’s bodies as the canvas on to which I project my complex and culturally invisible maternal subjectivity. Inverting the psychoanalytic objectification of the mother and it’s subservience to the child’s subjectivity.
In Jocasta, a performative scanner series the scanner plate is the stage and the child’s body a prop onto which maternal fears and desires are enacted. I perform my deep passion towards my male child and my joyous immersion in the sensual pleasure of the physicality of my son’s body, I explore the knowledge of imminent maternal loss and anticipate the desperation that will ensue. These are significant subjective maternal positions.
In the Jocasta series, the mother can be seen as an omnipotent, multi headed hydra, engulfing the child from all directions, suffocating and overpowering him or we could compassionately see her as presenting a desperate attempt to become all for the child, expressing her response to imminent loss, performing abjection.
The series was originally concieved as still panoramic images but has recently been re-developed as a moving image installation piece, see clip below.