(1992-1998), an indistinct utterance and the German word for mother,
is a mixed-media installation project. Mutter started with
my obsession with slides my father took of my mother when they fell in love.
She was 17. He was 27. I fell in love with my mother. I wanted to play with
my mother, collaborate with her, explore the intense psychosexual formation
of the individuals within the "Family", particularly my German,
white, Irish-Catholic, middle-class one. The dynamics are never as simple
as literal description and it is my desire to construct the enormous longing
I have for my mother's immortality, to make the usually repressed and unnamed
tangible. Luce Irigaray's essay, "And The One Doesn't Stir Without
The Other", articulates this precious and maddening relationship. In
it she writes, "And what I wanted from you, Mother, was this: that
in giving me life, you will remain alive." For the drawings within
mutter, I pictured milk draining her empty as it fills me
with blueness, milk as invisible ink, the mercury fluid flowing from the
erotic mother to the devouring mouth of her daughter. And then the daughter
tries to feed the mother, to give her milk back, seeping through her skin,
soaking her eyes, whispering in her ear.
Mutter is an attempt to connect, with lines of poked holes, the relationships between my mother and her homeland, (she is still a German citizen), my mother and my father, my mother and her God, my father and his six children, and most importantly between my mother and me, not as a sentimental record, but as a disturbing archive of the "family"and a woman's position in the world, and one child's perception of it through the synthesis of adult memory, interpretation, artifacts, and materials. Black and white photographs, from my father's negatives, serve as "footnotes" to the project. There is a suspended wood and glassine replica of my parents' bed, projections of my drowned brother's gravestone onto a wooden baby carriage, skin, salt, slate, a series of photographs of my mother dyeing her hair, and my mother's wedding dress, in its yellowed and empty glory, like a faded photograph, directly next to a life-sized cibachrome of her on her wedding day.
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