You Are Everything to Me

  • Dates
    2022 - Ongoing
  • Author
  • Locations Italy, United Kingdom

My imagery reflects on the expected role of motherhood in the patriarchal vision. I invite the viewers to hear all those mothers who are silently struggling to cope and remain mostly unseen by their family, communities and institutions.

‘You Are Everything to Me’ challenges the conventional narrative surrounding motherhood, confronting the idyllic and romanticised notions often associated with the maternal experience. Through my images, I delve into the unsettling reality faced by some mothers who become prisoners of their maternal life, weighed down by the negation of their own well-being, desires, and identity.

This project draws inspiration from the story of an Italian mother who left her 18-month-old daughter to die of starvation. It was summer 2022, when she abandoned her child in her cot bed, washed, changed, and with a bottle of milk. Then, she left for six days to reconcile with her partner and try to build a future with him. This story deeply affected me; I felt horrified, a feeling that was enhanced by the language used in many newspaper headlines: ‘A 37-year-old single mother left her 18-month-old daughter to die of starvation for futile reasons. Nobody heard the little one crying.’ Subsequently, this anonymous woman, almost unknown in her neighbourhood, was proclaimed a monster, the witch of an atrocious crime. There was extensive media coverage, debates and discussions. She became a spectacle for public judgment moderated by priests, psychologists, and her own lawyers. Yet nobody had noticed her struggling or heard her, and the baby, crying for help.

In my work, I seek to dismantle the poetic imagery and stereotypes surrounding motherhood, and shed light on the silent battles faced by countless mothers who live through something so universally treasured and revered - motherhood - with extreme loneliness and despair. I have collaborated with my own daughter who has performed for me in front of the camera, re-evoking some of my personal memories of loneliness, isolation and self-loss as a mother. I have chosen the colour red as a distinctive background to symbolises love, carnage and rage. Through my imagery, I invite the viewers to hear the voices of all those mothers who are silently struggling to cope, often overlooked by society; mothers who find it difficult to ask for help, either out of shame or for fear of their own sentiments.

In an era where supportive policies for mothers are lacking, I aim to raise awareness of, and provoke much-needed conversations about, these concealed and unsupported experiences so these important - if difficult - stories can be heard.