whole-falconer-2012.pdf (4.09 MB)
Future clan : the dynamics of adolescence and mothers
thesisposted on 2023-05-26, 02:27 authored by Falconer, GL
This project is a visual interpretation of my journey of motherhood at the time of my son‚ÄövÑvºs adolescence. Adolescence encompasses a reshaping of roles and relationships for both mother and son and these shifts are often accompanied by confusion and conflict. The relationship between parent and child is central, and is presented in this submission from the perspective of the mother. The balance between dependency and independence for the adolescent, and a mother‚ÄövÑvºs response to these oscillations, has been central to the overall project. There are a number of questions that arise from this personal investigation that have a theoretical underpinning, including; How can portraiture explore the complex realm of selfhood and the subject? and What place does such an intimate exploration of a lived experience have in contemporary art? and Why has this aspect of women‚ÄövÑvºs lives been so little explored by artists? The exegesis reviews feminist writing on motherhood and art, such as theorists Marianne Hirsch, Carol Armstrong Rozsika Parker and Andrea Liss. It is significant that as recently as the 2009 publication Feminist Art and the Maternal, Andrea Liss questions why the perspective of the mother has been under-represented within contemporary art practice. Following this there is a discussion of portraiture and expressionism and how these operate within this research project. Finally there is a discussion of printmaking processes that allow for an expression of the embodied experience of motherhood and how the use of a camera to record poses, expresses the fragmented experience of parenting. I have located this research within the context of artists working in an autobiographical manner focussing on the intimate relationships with their own children. These include Suzanne Valadon, K‚àö¬ßthe Kollwitz and Sally Mann. These artists use portraiture to explore the relationship of the child and the maternal gaze and the conflicted role of the mother/artist. The second contextual grouping is artists who have made work specifically about adolescence: Hellen Van Meene, Rineke Dijkstra and Lise Sarfati. These artists deal with the search for identity in which the adolescent is engaged as well as the adolescent‚ÄövÑvºs relationship to his/her changing physical form and awareness of self-image. These artists are all photographers and work with models who are not related to them. In my final presentation there are five series of prints. The series and their titles do not represent a chronology of events but rather are grouped to reflect discrete psychological states. The printmaking processes of woodcut, collagraph and etching are used, and combined in many cases, to represent these states and reflect an ongoing experimentation. The works use colour, texture and scale as well as an expressive mark making in order to engage with the mother‚ÄövÑvºs empathetic view of her son. The research project is an intensive visual portrayal of one individual over several years. The final works and exegesis contribute to an understanding of what it is to be a mother of a troubled adolescent at this time, with all the ambiguities and anxieties that pertain to that experience. It portrays the anguish of the artist in revealing the dark side, seldom expressed, of mothering, in exposing frailties in parenting, while still honouring and respecting her son in the process.
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