It’s been just about two months since my lovely mum passed on August 4th. I know a couple of months isn’t any type of formal anniversary but the timing over the weekend brought mum to mind and I found myself looking at some of the photos of her last few days and it triggered a chain of thought about my next approach.
Figure 1 below is mum as mum on July 3rd 2013. I know now that the day this photo was taken mum had 31 days left before she died.
This below is mum at 9.42am on August 3rd
This below is mum at 12.38pm August 3rd
And this below is mum at 10.16am August 4th
Do any of the photos look a little surreal to you? On Sunday August 3rd mum was very week but aware of her surroundings and still with us and this can be clearly seen in Figure 2 where she is responding to my wetting her lips. Yet by lunchtime she was very tired and could barely communicate. By the time Monday morning arrived mum was alive but never gained consciousness and died at 2pm.
Thoughts on representation
It seems to me that Figure 3 Mum at 12.38pm August 3rd is a little surreal. Steph and Harry are posing with mum but she looks dead! But it’s not mum that makes the photo look strange as Figure 4 shows her in a similar state as figure 3. It’s the juxtaposition of Steph and Harry laughing and smiling alongside an unconscious looking mum that makes the photo look so odd.
This got me thinking about oddities and impairment/disability and the possibility of creating a set of images that speaks about disability in a similar way. This could challenge and interest the viewer in terms of what they are seeing.
Of course the other main concern that came up as I wrote this was about how I am representing mum in such a public way. We naturally like the photos of our loved ones to be positive. Yet as Jo Spence showed with her 1979 Beyond the Family Album – collectively such images create histories that omit much. It is with this in mind that I choose to share images of my mum not at her best, as this is mum as I remember her just as much as the pretty photos.
 Jo Spence, Beyond the Family Album, (n.d.) [online] http://www.jospence.org/beyond_family_album/b_f_a_14.html [accessed 04/10/2014]