It comes as no surprise that the current exhibition at the Photographers’ Gallery generated much discussion with its bold take on a topic that is traditionally considered private. Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity challenges the one-sided representation of motherhood in media, offering a fresh and honest take on the subject.
I am currently researching the theme of motherhood and identity for a project commissioned by the Riga Photomonth, so the show offered a perfect starting point for my work.
I was interested to hear many people describing the work on display as uncomfortable, considering it explores the subject that everyone is familiar with in one way or other. Perhaps it is this proximity that gets under our skin; the photographs act like mirrors in which we see ourselves too clearly to bear the view? Indeed, bold and daring, most images don’t encourage a dialogue, instead making statements that you can take or leave.
Hats off to curators Susan Bright, who skillfully selected a range of though-provoking work from around the world – my three favorites are:
I have been a fan of Elinor’s honest and intimate photographs of her family for a long time. She is probably the first photographer that comes to mind when discussing the new photographic representations of motherhood.
Putz’s portraits of her friends with their children look almost abstract – lines and shape, not people – yet they are intimate and beautiful.
Incredibly intimate personal work by one of this year’s ISSP tutors documents her years through failed IVF treatments.
One detail came as a bitter surprise though: if the Photographers’ Gallery claims the work on display ‘challenge long-held stereotypes of motherhood’, why is there no admission for kids under 12 to see the show? If I had a child, this would be the first exhibition I would like to bring him to.