A woman holding her naked daughter possessively to her breast—physically shielding her from an unseen ghost, yet with a look of forlorn detachment on her face; the same woman, looking like she is barely transcending her own girlhood, sitting on an operating table, holding her burgeoning belly, and preparing for the unknown.
These are just two descriptions of the evocative photographs being presented by American-Israeli artist Elinor Carucci at the Fotografins Hus this week here in Stockholm, in an exhibition entitled “Kin and Self”. The exhibition centers on her family, placing a substantive focus on the all-encompassing role of motherhood, and the raw, messy and utterly awe-inspiring journey of having a child.
I saw some of Ms. Carucci’s photographs several weeks ago and was plunged into a reflective process on my own identity as a mother.
Having my daughter two years ago was the most transformative and emotionally complicated experience of my life. I felt blissful and transfixed by this wondrous being, yet at times viscerally confused. One expects motherhood to be organic, yet no one talks about the guilt-ridden nights you will lay awake wondering if you’re a bad mother.
I realized that with the birth of a child, a new self is also born. I’m still redefining who I am as a woman, but it’s an empowering journey of self-awareness and part of who I am will forever belong entirely to my daughter.
Seeing Ms. Carucci’s photographs at the Fotografins Hus this week in Stockholm made me feel part of something bigger. Her raw honesty captures so finely and precisely many of the emotions mothers feel, but never reveal.
This desire to dissect the role of the artist within their cultural norms is a recurring theme I’ve observed while combing through museums across town. Artists such as Cecilia Edefalk, who currently has a striking exhibit entitled “Moment” at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet, are turning the lens onto themselves in order to make provocative statements on social responsibility, countering conventional gender roles and female empowerment. There is nothing more inspiring than strong females finally rising in the art world and displaying their stories of growth and introspection as women in modern society.