Saturday, 25 May 2013

Leigh Ledare

Whilst writing this blog post I felt like I shouldn't be, it was going against a taboo that is so engrained in our society and I couldn't expel it out of my head.
This guy photographs his mother naked or with her lovers and people in general usually cringe at just thinking that their parents might still be having sex, let alone seeing it in front of them and then photographing it. Is this art? Well it seems more like pornography that depicts the strange relationship between Leigh and his mother, but then it's been fully admitted as being pornographic. Is it like with the YBA, the more personal and controversial your work is, the better it fits into the art world. It is so outrageous and something that is unspoken in public that I suppose the reason I was drawn to the images was out of curiosity, why did this man photograph his mother like this, how did he see her, do they have a normal life? A normal mother and son relationship? But then what is normal? Is it keeping the view that as soon as a woman has children she becomes sexually obsolete, that she no longer has the sexual desires she had before? Do parents have to keep their sex life private because of their kids, when thinking about it in this way, I suppose you could say that Ledare's imagery is rebelling against that, against the norm and exposing his own mother to show some sort of pride for her, to show that she is still a woman, a proud and sexually active woman and not afraid to let her son document it. These are all just theories and questions, but as I ask them of myself I become less embarrassed to put them in this post, this is a glimpse into someone's life and there will be those that hate it and those that think it means something. I'm still not sure which of those people I am yet, but I like to think that I am open to all types of work and what the artist is trying to say, or not say, with it. Art is what you say it is, there is the general consensus that if something is put in a gallery, no matter how obscure it is, then it is art. That is the beauty and horror of art, it is freedom and control all at once, it is subjective and the artist has a surprising amount of control over what the public sees. That is how it evolves, through pushing boundaries, pushing our views as to what we perceive as art. This is life.

Mother and Catch 22, 2002
Mom with hand on bed, 2006

"While I was making work that was, at least partially, a response to a situation imposed on me, through representing our relationship I inevitably became complicit in what she was doing. For me, this is actually where it starts to get interesting. She was using the camera towards creating posterity while undermining that posterity through how she sexualized herself. At the same moment, she was a mother, a pornographic actress, a model being photographed by her son in ways that often deal with impropriety, a prodigy ballerina, a daughter, a woman using her sexuality to shield herself from her aging. Through a kind of montage, the work reveals the irreconcilable nature of these roles as they come together at the site of her as a subject. She’s extremely fragmented. Different people at different times, depending on who she’s with and who they let her be. The work is a kind of study around how we are formed as subjects not simply through identity, but at the levels of desire and motivation."   (Leigh Ledare, Kaleidoscope Magazine, Issue 10)

Mom Fucking in Mirror, 2002
Mom in her new home, 2007
For every nude photograph there is a more tender, revealing portrait of Ledare's mother, like the above, that counteracts the raw, sexual images. He has not only done a study of his mother but also of his ex-wife and her current partner (see below):

'In this way, Ledare’s work might signal a shift in this kind of expressionist, confessional tradition of photography. In a culture where candid personal photographs litter the Internet and people willingly use reality TV shows to expose their personal baggage, Ledare is aware that any attempt at authenticity will already be polluted. Maybe the confessional can no longer be confronted head-on, but rather with a sidelong glance, or with a knowing look out the corner of one’s eye. But Ledare’s gazes are no less poignant or penetrating because of it.'  
(Christy Lange, Frieze Magazine, Issue 123, May 2009)

The more horrifying this world becomes, the more art becomes  abstract.                                                      ~Ellen Key

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