Milk Tooth speaks about a shrouded relationship in between mother and child. It is inspired by a photographic tradition titled "hidden mother” which photographically manifests the physical need for the mother while visually absenting her within a double portrait. In 19th century mothers had to disguise themselves as curtains, couches, chairs, or even as absence itself throughout the exposure time to prevent the motion blur of the moving baby. However, the mothers were not absent from these portraits; on the contrary, the hidden mother photographs makes us find the mothers in an even deeper place, hiding in darkness.
In Milk Tooth the concept of the “hidden mother” is used as a methodological framework within the investigation of what photographic double portraiture can be beyond having two people in a shared photographic frame. Milk Tooth is about re-contextualising the “hidden mother” from a person who functions as a head-rest (an equipment they used in a photographic studio back then) into a mother for whom even her adult child feels an emotional need. While using the gesture of embracing and doubling as a photographic methodology, this work aims to create a new relation to maternal loss, to the unimaginable time and condition of losing a mother. By exploring the photographic double portraiture both as an understanding of handling a future loss, this study investigates how the material photographic double-portrait both holds and extends the spatial coexistence of the embracing pair in order to redefine photographic double portraiture beyond the photographic presence of two sitters. Psychoanalytic frameworks, are brought into play as a methodology for reconceiving loss in relation to the maternal and the photographic as a maternalised space.
The work speaks about the collapse of conventional roles of the mother and the child. The photographic absence in hidden mother is explored as the emotional absence of the mother as an actual, physical and emotional supporter for a grown-up child. Pursuing how the mother can be photographically present as an absent body helps us find the mother— as if an attempt to convince ourselves that we will still be all right when the mother will be physically absent one day.
Installation view, Sakıp Sabancı Museum, 2015
installation view, Obscura Photo Festival, AWPS
curated by: Yumi Goto, George Town, Penang, Malesia