Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Communications Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Communications and Creative Industries

First Advisor

Dr Panizza Allmark

Abstract

This body of photographic portraits re/presents the maternal relationship as a significant one in a cultural economy than 'downgrades motherhood', and fails to adequately recognise the contribution of mothers to society, as they struggle to uphold self and family in contemporary life. Throughout this work, which fuses religious visual art principles and photographic documentary, a more complex, powerful maternal figure emerges than the singular, passive and restrictive example of motherhood, commonly portrayed in art history. I undertake a comparative analysis between traditional Madonna and child icons and contemporary female photographers involved with maternal themes, to highlight that certain photographs facilitate subversive readings. Seventeen mothers and their children were photographed for the project; this diverse range of mother/child combinations provides variables and ambiguities, which reveal beauty and menace to allow for multiple opportunities for female subjectivity and a potent maternity. Julia Kristeva's ideas on the abject, herethics and psychoanalysis are referenced in the production of the photographs and the exegesis, in synchronicity with Panizza Allmark's photographie féminine approach. In m/others I celebrate the intense, unique and complicated maternal matrix and contribute to a reshaping of maternity in cultural discourse.

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