Who Is Dead and Who Is Changed

Ahndraya Parlato

2013 - 2021

My most recent project, which culminated in my second monograph, Who is Changed and Who is Dead (Mack Books, 2021), uses the life-changing events of my mother’s suicide and the birth of my children as the genesis for an expansive project exploring the contradictory and complex conditions of motherhood. The resulting image-text book threads the political and historical with the deeply personal, bringing together narratives from across genres and generations to create a nuanced and compelling body of work. Interwoven with my writings are still lifes, sculptures, photograms made from my mother’s ashes, and reenactments of 19th century ‘hidden mother’ images. Included amongst these are photographs of my children, who are shown with both a fidelity to maternal intimacy and a more distanced contemplation. Within this complexity I strive to find clarity around the fundamental questions of parenthood, mortality, and gender. Are my contemporary fears any different than the fears felt by mothers throughout history? Which anxieties are specific to having female children? And how is motherhood itself a construction?

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