I photograph my children growing up in the same town I did. Many of my pictures are intimate, some are fictions and some are fantastic but most are of ordinary things every mother has seen; a wet bed, bloody nose, candy cigarettes. They dress up, they pout and posture, they paint their bodies, they dive like otters in the dark river.
If I could be said to have any kind of aesthetic, it’s sort of a magpie aesthetic—I just go and pick up whatever is around. If you think about it, the children were there, so I took pictures of my children. It’s not that I’m interested in children that much or photographing them—it’s just that they were there... .
As ephemeral as our footprints were in the sand along the river, so also were those moments of childhood caught in the photographs. And so will be our family itself, our marriage, the children who enriched it and the love that has carried us through so much. All this will be gone. What we hope will remain are these pictures, telling our brief story.
.....I struggle with enormous discrepancies: between the reality of motherhood and the image of it, between my love for my home and the need to travel, between the varied and seductive paths of the heart. The lessons of impermanance, the occasional despair and the muse, so tenuously moored, all visit their needs upon me and I dig deeply for the spiritual utilities that restore me: my love for the place, for the one man left, for my children and friends and the great green pulse of spring.
When I remember my childhood, I remember pictures of my childhood; I don’t remember actual moments. Photographs are really subversive in that way. If those are the only memories we have, and we know that photography lies—or at least is very limited in its presentation of information—then what does that make your childhood? One big lie?
When I started doing the family pictures, there was originally a documentary impulse. It wasn’t even conscious. Something would happen and I would reach for a camera, because of the power of what was taking place. As I continued the project, that impulse expanded—I was interested in a lot more than just the black eye or the stitches in the emergency room. I was after the whole, all-encompassing concept of childhood, including the halcyon moments at the farm, the quotidian aspects of childhood as well as the more dramatic ones.
The fact is that these are not my children; they are figures on silvery paper slivered out of time. They represent my children at a fraction of a second on one particular afternoon with infinite variables of light, expression, posture, muscle tension, mood, wind and shade. These are not my children at all; these are children in a photograph.