art 21

I just discovered dvd’s of art 21 at my public library for the first three seasons of the show. I started watching season one tonight, and the first section looks at artists concerned with place. Sally Mann is one of the artist’s in this section. If the section is concerned with place, why did they open her sequence with her son talking about what kind of mother she was (lacking)? Granted, she may be most well-known for her photographs of her children, and it is certainly interesting to hear their experiences in front of her lens, but the discussion was meant to be focused on the element of place in work. Not her motherhood.

I can’t help but think that it’s because a mother must, above all else, be a Good Mother. She must be selfless and passive and kind and nurturing and she must never ever place her own needs — for self-expression or anything else — above her children’s. A father can be an artist, and his fatherhood — whether a critique of his quality of fathering or an analysis of his experience — is barely a topic of conversation. But a mother artist must first be a perfect mother before she makes art.

I will be interested to see if the series covers any other artist parents and how the subject is treated. And whether it is treated differently for mothers than for fathers.

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