September 24, 2012

Leigh Ledare - Pretend You’re Actually Alive

Surely the most transgressive and taboo-breaking photo project in history : a son takes pictures of her mother in sexual exhibition activities. It's too difficult with my poor English to describe the projet so I took this section from a site in which Ledare talks about it "The photographer recently released a book of images, Pretend You’re Actually Alive, which features his mother, a 59-year-old ballerina-turned stripper, in various stages of undress. Some of the pictures include lingerie and boyfriends; many feature a come-hither gaze that wouldn’t be so jarring if the photographer weren’t her son. Ledare, 32, says the project began about eight years ago, when he paid his mother a visit in Seattle. “Basically,” he says, “I arrived home one Christmas, and I hadn’t seen her in a year, and she came to the door completely naked.” Ledare, who left home at 15, and was formerly a professional skateboarder and assistant to photographer-director Larry Clark of KIDS fame, says the camera provides needed distance between him and his mother and, conversely, serves as a catalyst “to sort of push the relationship.” Pretend You’re Actually Alive, also the name of his recent show at New York’s Andrew Roth Gallery, reflects the tension inherent in their relationship, tracing his mother’s fall and Ledare’s rise. “It was my mother coming into a period of decline and attempting to resist that through projecting her sexuality and tying herself to younger boyfriends,” says Ledare. “And it’s a coming of age, artistically, for me.”. He photographed her over more 7 years and this temporality brings a totally essential dimension to this project that would surely have been considered as only transgressive if the sex-pix of the first years were the only ones provided. This series questions us all about this difficulty we have to see our parents as sexualized and, when we're parents, to accept that our children, even when they are grown-ups, can't consider us as sexualized, and if they accept it, don't want even to imagine how we are when we do it (and often we do much more than they do cos' we learned a lot about diversity of sexual pleasures and excitations). Yes, this cultural barrier (only cultural, nothing ontologic in it, contrary to what many would like us to believe) is printed in us and this project has the incredibly strong quality to push it to its limits. I though it was good to keep the picture of Tina Peterson (the mother of Leigh Ledare) as a dancet ballet in 1966 at the end of this post. A site here with some more about it. There's of course a book.

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