154MC – Gallery Talk – Home Truths

The artist talk was at the photographers gallery in association with the ‘Home Truths’ exhibition. Elinor Carucci, Ana Casas Broda and Katie Murray came in to talk about their works that were showcased at the gallery. But after reading and researching around Elinor Carucci, her work was at my particular interest.

Elinor Carucci started the talk by illustrating her influences and story behind the photography that she has produced in the past. She went into detail about her personal life; expressing the context of her new project ‘mother’; stating that photography was the only way of communicating in a time or crisis in her marriage and she found herself documenting the relationships she had with her family. Mother was an evolution of her previous project ‘closer’; it was a project where she wanted to explore the emotions that she went through being a mother.

The difficulties in tackling such a project was that it had to represent what mothers were going through; the project had to express a universal meaning that others could associate with. During the project she found herself capturing the flaws of the mother-child relationship with her children crying and the signs of stress on herself; but these flaws were said to be wonderful and expressive to other mothers. She presented raw images that challenged morality; similar to Sally Mann’s photography of her children. But she felt that the personable quality made for a more focused and true study.

The talk revealed the anxiety of her self representation and her children’s representation in this project. It was interesting to hear a photographer talk so confidently about such a personal assignment. An assignment that exposed them in a vulnerable position for all to see. She did have concern and wonder about the reception she would receive from both projects ‘closer’ and ‘mother’, but she was confident that the arts message is improved by her bare representation, that its truth would prevail over her own anxiety. Furthermore, to hear about her concern for mothers to find common ground with her project placed her photography in reality. When you see photographers work in exhibitions and books, you forget about the unease of the image maker; you forget about the controversy that they have to answer for. But to hear her express the trials and tribulations of ‘mother’ was certainly inspirational.

The images themselves show the true emotion that she was talking about, and expressed these wonderful ‘flaws’ of her increasingly public relationships with her children. It can definitely be seen that her au naturel photography brought fearlessness and truth to the moments captured, and bravely incapsulated what other mothers go through. You really get a sense of her relationships through the photography, no real explanation was needed. But the context for this project gathered to make this a focused and in depth talk, which was certainly a great experience and something to help me develop my confidence as a photographer.

Both Ana Casas Broda and Katie Murray did however also have interesting projects. Casas Borda’s project in particular was definitely visually and contextually stimulating. But it was her previous project that stuck a cord more than her ‘Home Truths’ work. She explored identity through her intimate staged photography; trying to be honest by photographing reconstructions of images of her grandmother, showing herself as a free, expressive spirit. She said how the images demonstrated the affection in the family and that brought them closer. In contrast, Murray’s gazzelle video was a homemade comedy piece with ‘layers’. Definitely an ironic spectacle that demonstrates the restrained responsibility of motherhood in relation to a gazelle defending itself against predators. The piece in Murray’s words; ‘illuminates the complexity of being a mother’. But it demonstrates it with a distracting visual that wasn’t to my taste, but I could understand its intent, which was communicated well in the talk.

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I felt more engaged with the words of Elinor Carucci because she expressed her work with more photographic terminology that people could relate too. The overall talk displayed interesting examples of motherhood with coincidentally similar messages shown. It was an inspirational talk that expressed the stories of what it was like to be a photographer; something that is invaluable to learning the mentality of the trade.

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