that is my mother
‘that is my mother’ was inspired by a traditional Russian folk tale – ‘My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world’. The work draws on Roland Barthes’ concept of the ‘punctum’ as expounded in Camera Lucida (1980), “A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me)”. In Camera Lucida, Barthes describes his search for that one photograph that best defines his mother, portrays her essence and holds his attention.
Recreating Barthes’ quest, using face-to-face conversations, emails and social media, and giving minimal guidance, Tracey invited people to provide a photograph of their mother. Multiple dialogues ensued as contributors from around the globe recounted why particular photographs had been chosen – and why they came to say of this single image, ‘that is my mother’.