Attention Mama: a space for photography mothers to share their lockdown experience

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This article is without a doubt printed in the latest issue of British Journal associated with Photography magazine, themed Home, delivered direct to you with the 1854 Subscription, or available to purchase on the BJP shop .  

Launched at the start from the Covid-19 pandemic, the Instagram platform is a collection of images that illustrates the complexities – and the everyday facts – of motherhood during unprecedented times

After giving birth to the daughter in 2019, I had fashioned to imagine myself anew. The particular complex terrain of motherhood reconfigured the landscape of my mind, and my world, in ways that nothing at all could have prepared me meant for. I discovered an isolation so potent that it could move unseen by close friends plus loved ones. In the west, we are motivated to package up motherhood neatly. Keep quiet about the challenges, lack of support plus mental health impacts. Even the positive aspects of parenting are unwanted conversation topics. As it happens in our culture, it’s not ‘cool’ to like being along with your kid. As mothers, we are expected to embrace our struggle and simply keep being whom we were. In essence, we depart from ourselves.

It isn’t easy to talk about, especially with non-parents, as the experience exists outdoors language. Our vocabulary is not really large or sensitive sufficient to encapsulate the contrary motherhood experience. This vocabulary barrier is compounded by the reality that the role associated with parenting continues to go undetectable in our society. It’s a side-project – something in order to fulfil in the background rather than recognised as serious work. In truth, the invisible work of motherhood is so all-encompassing that you still do it, even if your children are elsewhere.  

© Polly Alderton / @polly_alderton

“Juggling my kids, work and home schooling was chaos. It was a constant state of fight or even flight. There’s no assistance system for working mothers, and I felt like I had a split personality juggling the work life, which was under threat, while also helping my children and getting the backup person for any my family’s needs. There have been many tears until We reached a point of reckoning. ”

Karni Arieli

© Bri McDaniels / @moonandcheeze

The Covid-19 pandemic had a cataclysmic effect on mothers. The system was already stacked against us, but the lockdown lay bare inequalities with tough force. Millions of working mothers lost their jobs. Numerous were forced into an impossible juggle of home schooling and working from home. Unpartnered moms with three jobs with no childcare struggled to pay for necessities like housing, food and utilities. Even mothers with older, more independent children needed to shoulder the psychological problem of the pandemic, while endeavoring to retain some stability in the family unit. For many, the already overloaded responsibilities of being a mother reached breaking point. Disastrously mothers had no selection but to get back up is to do it all again tomorrow.  

“It was this ideal storm, ” Karni Arieli tells me. “Juggling my kids, function and homeschooling was commotion. It was a constant state of fight or flight. There’s no support system pertaining to working mothers, and I seemed I had a split personality juggling my work lifetime, which was under threat, whilst also supporting my children and being the backup person for all my family’s needs. There were many cry until I reached a point of reckoning. ” The photographer and Bafta-nominated film-maker found solace in taking photos of her family, enabling her to support her children and hold onto her creativity. As she watched other mothers do the same, Arieli developed the Eye Mama project, a good Instagram account where musicians and photographers, who are also mothers, could share images of their lives during the outbreak.  

© Tori Ferenc / @toriferenc

© Fusa / @whatalife_fusa

In only nine months, the accounts expanded from work by Arieli and her group of friends to 20, 000 submissions taken by moms from over 30 nations, and counting. The platform grew to become a stage for passionate entanglements with strangers – a portrait of motherhood during an unprecedented period of history. The images, shot by photographers including Ying Ang, Bri McDaniel, Kate Peters, Anh Wisle, Siân Davey, and Rose Marie Cromwell span the range of play to tiredness. Tender, direct and truthful – their gesture associated with vulnerability converges many types of joy and struggle.

“On one hand, the walls appear to be closing in on you, ” says Arieli. “There’s this particular underlying current of are worried about and menace. On the other hand, everything’s illuminated. All the little moments of beauty, connection and humour shine through. I think you get your power back again by documenting this pressure. And in sharing images, you are feeling reassured that we’re many going through very similar things. ” Arieli describes the project as, “the emotional scenery taking place in people’s homes”. In many ways, it’s the desire to end up being accountable to the everyday which makes Eye Mama so captivating. As mothers, most of our own intense struggles and wonders occur in the ordinary – this is where the constitution of parenting takes place.

© Ying Ang / @yingang

“It was important to me that this project not be reduced to one vision. There are various, many visions through several eyes, in many homes. Earlier, when I saw images of motherhood in culture, they’re often too white, too clean, too perfect or too kooky. There was nothing graceful yet realistic that produced me feel seen and part of something. ”     

Surprisingly, the recurring existence of mirror selfies that punctuate the collection are some of the most disarming images. Body are draped over body as each mother earnings the viewer’s gaze using a quiet intensity. At first, these people read ordinary. Humble. Common. Yet en masse, they feel more like an respond of visibility – an evidence of existence. For the photographers, but also for the community. They are grounding amid the chaos, noiselessly communicating a shared history.

“It was important to myself that this project not be reduced to one vision, ” states Arieli. “There are many, many visions through many eye, in many homes. Previously, when i came across images of motherhood within culture, they’re always as well white, too clean, as well perfect or too kooky. There was nothing poetic however realistic that made me feel seen and a part of something. In creating this particular platform, I really found our tribe. Something I didn’t even realise I was lacking. ”     

Janne Amalie Svit / @jannesvit

© Selma Fernandez Richter / @
selmafernandezrichter

Beyond visibility, the energy that Eye Mama stir up for its contributors and viewers generate a social impact. A community has assembled itself through the simple gesture of making and sharing images. It is a brave act in itself, and has not been without issues, with Instagram threatening plus momentarily deleting the platform earlier this year.

The images position our narrative within the entire world while recognising the chronic struggle amid the ever-changing conditions of pandemic parenting. Eye Mama is a space to hold each other, share what exactly is sacred between us plus remind us to be witnesses to each other. While perhaps the most fascinating and profound things that being a mother offer will never be captured by the camera, the exercise of image-making as catharsis, connection, comfort and neighborhood gives us an entry point to talk about impossible things.  

Gemstone Fletcher

Creative movie director, writer, podcaster and picture director, Gem Fletcher functions across visual-cultural fields, focusing on emerging talent in contemporary photography and art. She is the photo director associated with Riposte Magazine, and serves a photography podcast, The Messy Truth.

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