On last Wednesday evening, Guggenheim Fellow Photographer Elinor Carucci presented her latest collection, The Effect of Motherhood, which explores the influence of her children’s birth on her editorial and commercial assignments. Held at the Conde Nast Gallery within the World Trade Center, Carucci brought forward selections from her archival work including pieces from her most recent monograph Mother (Prestel, 2014), each printed with the use of Ilford products.
Captivating images of differing families–with struggles to each their own–hanged adjacent to one another, pushing forward this sense of universality within not only family dynamics, but hardships. In the end, this is what it’s all about for Carucci. After having given birth to her twins Eden and Emmanuelle, age 11, she became utterly aware of the hidden trials and triumphs families encounter.
“My work originally came from a place of anger with media,” Carucci tells Resource. “We’re given [the image of] the Madonna and child, and celebrities who look perfect, untouched days after giving birth, and that’s dangerous and not right.”
Carucci, despite being wholly aware that some people do have it easy after childbirth, finds it her mission to highlight cases that oftentimes go overlooked by media outlets and Hollywood, if not outright rejected.
Just take a look around the gallery space. On one corner, spectators grasp a look into the lives of a family who have a daughter with Down Syndrome. Capturing a sincere moment taking place amongst the family, Carucci documents a grueling task, which almost every family encounters: baking brownies. After a seemingly successful batch, nothing seems out of the ordinary—and that’s the beauty of it.
Families that struggle—with whatever hand they are dealt—face pity and are categorized as one sole entity within media. Carucci goes beyond that—whether that be when capturing this family or the premature birth of another’s—normalizing these happenings, showcasing their intactness.
“My children’s birth made me really see everything around me,” Carucci says. “[Becoming a mother] makes you truly understand family dynamics and overall relations. It continues to deepen my visual understanding of intimacy and connection.”
Yet, neither being a good photographer nor mother comes easy. Documenting the hectic lives of her little ones left Carucci snapping away at any given time with her Canon 1ds in hopes of cultivating derivative emotion into single shots.
She explains at one moment, her children might take hold of the camera and capture something beautiful. In another, she may demand her husband to press the shutter as she interacts with the twins, disregarding the set-up of lights, getting to that essential moment of brilliance.
It works for her, clearly.
And without shock, the brightest, most proud aspect—when reflecting on her career thus far—has been photographing her children’s fifth grade yearbook. “Motherhood is very personal,”Carcucci reinstates. “There’s specifics to each family and I get to learn and grow from them with every assignment. You adjust and learn. This [family] is okay, this is normal, and this is complex. And it’s all beautiful.”
Elinor Carucci: The Effect of Motherhood is open now until June 26.