gravity locked her in rotation

Allison DeBritz

2018 - 2021

My photographic narratives interrogate the problematic depiction of women and mothers—specifically the roles they are expected to fulfill in domestic spaces and relationships. This body of work, gravity locked her in rotation, explores the chaotic reality, frustration and sacrifice entrenched in motherhood and the gendered expectations that manifest through this tension. The images engage with familial vernacular, using my sister, mother, grandmother and myself. The familial gaze, in conjunction with performance and artificial light, play with idioms of family portraiture. The images are intimately tied to the physical body, obsessing over its plasticity as it relates to pregnancy, motherhood and aging. I often conceal or alter the women’s faces and bodies by cropping or collage–forcing a hyper focused view of the body and how it transforms. Each of my photographs are crafted to seduce the audience, drawing them in with alluring visuals, while the psychological narratives woven throughout ultimately detonates uncomfortable questions for the viewer.

On my maternal side, I am the third generation of female artists—my grandmother, mother and myself. I examine the trauma and fate of the women in my family and the conflicting fear and desire their legacy has instilled in me. Despite their talent and education, both women became wives, mothers and homemakers, giving up their artistic careers to raise a family. The connection between these repeating matrilineal strains and interrupted artistic practices deeply affects my ability to imagine my own future as an artist and mother simultaneously. While creating this body of work, my mother and I had many honest conversations, spurring my desire to generate a broader dialogue about motherhood that is more capacious, honest and accessible. As this work progressed, my mother’s role in the process shifted from subject to vital collaborator. Together we have developed an experimental form of relating through our artistic practices and in doing so reject the cliché tropes of motherhood—embracing an uninhibited exploration of our fears, frustrations and joy. By centering the work on our own experiences, it refuses the systems that produce internalized sexism and gendered binaries. Instead, this work and its collaborative process expands the complicated and nuanced understanding we have of ourselves as women, mothers and artists.

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