Realising Mother : Investigating Contemporary Maternal Realities through Photomedia

The mother on Christmas Eve, 2009LR.jpg

Kudos Gallery 2017

Denise Ferris, Sally McInerney, Julie Sundberg, Ella Dreyfus, Anke Stacker, Deborah Kelly, Raphaela Rosella, Miho Watanabe, Sarah Rhodes, Teena McCarthy, Clare Rae, Donna Bailey, Anne Zahalka, Rafaela Pandolfini, Theresa Byrnes and Lottie Consalvo

Curated by Zorica Purlija

The body of our mother (In Utero) is an unaccountable memory. Our first house or home, how strange to imagine this memory. The further we travel from the nonsense of babyhood, through ideally the magic childhood, to the here and now, the literate, logical, discerning world, the grainier the image becomes. If this imagining is a memory it is a sense memory, embodied but forgotten. It is perhaps our most sensuous memory in a literal context, the memory of before thought. Children are atemporal, free of time, but mothers are mostly not. Perhaps this partly explains the sometimes horror of children/motherhood in our present time structured, machine world.

The maternal body, in this century rapidly colonised by the discipline of medicine, science and technology, is still intriguingly absent in the world of art, a place where nothing is sacred or profane, the abject and strange up for grabs by the most adventurous of artists. It is as magnanimous and invisible as the Cloaked Bush Mary in Teena McCarthy’s self Portrait in the Realising Mother exhibition at the Kudos’ Gallery in Paddington. Undeniable, Omnipresent yet cloaked and indiscernible. Sex and Death are lurking around every corner of the gallery, but the maternal body explored by the maternal mind, Where Is It? Realising Mother conjures a magician’s wand and pulls a fluffy white Mother Rabbit, this subjective maternal body, out of a black top hat, the kind Orwellian capitalists wore whilst pushing over Proles, in 1984. The catalogue essay elaborates;

‘Realising Mother articulates a critical subjectivity [and has us] question notions of autonomy and agency as a socially selective privilege granted to specific bodies. 

We consider our own relations and involvements with these bodies.

We are urged to adjust our own position, to afford an expanded logic, one that realises the maternal body as unmoored from its genealogical and representational constraints. We are called to engage with the maternal as a complex and contingent sociality, as generative of new forms and trajectories, and as an open source in a perpetual state of becoming

The maternal body is the central focal point for the Realising Mother exhibition at Kudos Gallery, Paddington. Never is an art exhibition so embodied, so present even if reflected through the lens. Absent/hidden bodies, dancing bodies, clutching/bonding bodies, performed/artifice-d bodies, collaborator bodies, lesbian and gay, single, Blak, social, historical, cultural, child and maternal bodies. A body in which something may or may not grow but assumes this indescernable but vast concept of the maternal. This vision of the maternal in Realising Mother, now I ponder it deeply, is so expansive.

Unlike the Mother body of the Male Gazing art Canon, the meaning implied and explored in Realising Mother explodes open a sentimentalised, infantalised, worshipped mother, as ‘other’. It puts this messy and real, imperfect, beautiful and often unexpected maternal body front and centre.