Portrait of the Artist as a Mother is a current ongoing project and collaboration with photographer Ditte Solgaard Dunn, exploring motherhood, identity and the relationship between a mother and her children; how having children change and reshape a person.

In a sense, this project is a return to basics. My mother is a successful ceramicist and I have an uneasy relationship with the craft elements of my practice and of letting go of the present in case my children will suffer. I took a course in figurative sculpture techniques and painstakingly produced a self-portrait. I then gave the still wet clay original to my children with instructions to 'do what you want' and documented the result. Referencing the earth mother, made from clay, the mother I produced is soft, passive, receptive, ready to be shaped by her children. She is also highly sexualised.

I have been working with the idea of my children as performers for a few years now and am fascinated by their spontaneity and lack of self-censorship. Everything that they did came from them and all tools they introduced into the project themselves. There is something iconoclastic about the destruction of artworks and the image of the mother. Marina Abramovic claimed that if you give the audience total freedom, they will become frenzied enough to kill you. In a way, this is what my children did to me and it was a very intense experience. At the same time it was cathartic to let go of my ownership over the artwork and by extension myself. The act of giving over the artwork and myself to them created a whole new work and to me questions the notion of ownership of art, the role of the artist and the identity of the woman as a mother. Do I shape my children or do they shape me? And there are some great themes in their interactions - washing of the mother, stabbing of the woman, almost religious connotations of scratching and cutting of the body and the destruction of the identity of the face.


 

Image credits Ditte Solgaard Dunn