Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mother
There are few comments, few representations of what being a mother is today. Oddly enough, this basic passage, fundamental and founding, seems to be carefully left in the blind spot of a society which does not mind in the least infringing people’s private life.
This has nothing to do with coincidence but rather with a taboo. And that is why the very last series of Katharina Bosse’s photographs in which the artist performs with her own children, is surprising, amazing, frightening, terrifying.
Katharina Bosse was born in Finland in 1968, brought up in Germany, lived in New York where she soon becomes known through various series of photographs : “Surface tension” (2001), the portraits of people or of places as so many superficial appearances; “New Burlesque” (2003), the portraits of amateur striptease artists; and last but not least “Mermaid-Waterpark” (2005) , about the Mermaids’ annual parade in Coney Island and the artificial side of water-parks.
Truth/falsehood, reality/appearance, pretence, farce : Katharina already examines and probes the strength and the deep reasons of stereotypes. This new series, “Portrait of the artist as a young mother”, a turning point in her work, for once meets her own experience straigth out. After six years in New York, Katharina Bosse comes back and lives in Germany and gives birth to two babies within four years. This double change in her life goes with her artistic working on self-portrait. In large format prints, the artist poses with her babies to show the change of identity motherhood means for a woman. Flouting all kind of modesty, she performs in the middle of nowhere, most often naked and, she confesses, “ lets herself do things that only her body could tell”.
An ode to life, she appears with her hair streaming in the wind, dancing a bacchanalian dance, diaphanous like one of Botticelli’s goddesses. A beast, she is then seen on all fours feeding her suckling like the Roman she-wolf Romulus and Remus. Provocative, she appears naked in her fur coat, her sex visible, or, in leather boots and excessively made up, pregnant in a corn field. In other pictures, pure and diaphanous, she identifies herself to a Madonna, or, modestly wrapped up, hugging her children to her bosom, to the figure of Charity. Eventually, very disturbing, there she is wrapped up in red and masked, like a devouring, diabolical figure.
This new series by Katharina Bosse, disquieting and daring, reveals, with humour and boldness, this multi-faceted, extremely complex, underestimated process : the birth of a mother.