Rada Is Rad: A Maternity Photo Album
Initially, photographers ignored maternity as a subject matter. One of the common occurrences in the early days was the so-called “hidden mother” photography. The woman sat through the long exposure holding her baby to keep it calm, albeit remaining under drapery not to appear in the shot.
According to one theory, mothers were not photographed together with their little children because of the cultural oppression women suffered at the time. Another suggests continuing poetization of maternity, with Madonna and Child regarded as an archetypal mother image. With an older child, women looked less iconic.
Later, many female photographers — Margaret M. de Lange, Robin Schwartz, and Martine Fougeron — brought maternity into the spotlight, dedicating entire series and books to their children. The most prominent of those was Immediate Family, which Sally Mann photographed over 10 years. The series captured numerous intricacies of growing up — from wet beds to nose bleeds and candy cigarettes. This motherly series walks the line between an intimate confession and fiction, childish impatience and self-discovery, transience and immortality, marking a milestone in documentary photography.
Born in Khmelnytskyi, she is an artist living in Kyiv and focusing on art books, photography, drawing, and art installations. She made it to the shortlist of the UkrContempPhoto in the Discovery of the Year nomination.
— I have been into film photography since my first year at the university. When I got pregnant, the urge to take photos became almost consuming — and the reason was not my baby’s sweet cheeks. I mean, I photograph my sleeping daughter on my phone, too, but this project has become something different.
The birth of Rada changed my life, and my photography reflects that. Maternity made me more conscious of myself — of where I am, what curtains I have in the room, a pins and needles sensation in my side, and the feeling I have about answering a telephone call.
I like to think that I make “a print of love”. Rada and I are often naked in the pictures because the naked body is honest — it speaks. Everything that happens between us is very tactile.
Everything that happens between us is very tactile.
I make my experience public, albeit I don’t feel that it ceases being personal from that. It is natural for people to express themselves — this is how we assert our existence. Somewhere along the line, I felt I started losing myself in motherhood, but photography pulled me out of it.
At some point, I just know what the future photo looks like. The image is always there — all you need is silence to hear or see it. Also, it’s crucial to master the tool you are working not to waste too much energy on technical aspects.
I have this need to be near nature and silence. I want to live near a river and pluck parsley in my vegetable garden, and I like photographic flowers.
I like photographing flowers.
Recently, I discovered that modern artists tend to burn out — the older they get, the less exciting their art becomes. I think this burnout is due to a lack of silence in their lives — this is what happens when you have exhibitions twice a year and all that stuff.
It seems to me that “contemporary” is a lacking adjective when it comes to contemporary art. We need another word to set it apart from the things that were previously called art. The beauty of contemporary art is that it has no function. It owes nothing to anybody — it just happens. Sensitive viewers quickly pick up on that.
Photography caters to the moment.
Drawing and painting didn’t lose value in my eyes. Still, they take a specific state and, more importantly, a lot of time, which I don’t have. Photography caters to the moment.
Film photography is closer to my heart — it’s an enticing, only partially controllable process. The journey between wanting to take a photo and seeing the result is by no means long, but it involves many processes. It makes the picture feel alive. I like art books the most — they are very expressive.
What I made before Rada can also be considered a family photo album in terms of format (though not literally). Now, I am a mother, and accepting that nothing will ever be the same as before helps me be what I am in art.