Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tierney Gearon: The Mother Project

Last night we watched the documentary by Peter Sutherland and Jack Youngelson called Tierney Gearon : The Mother Project. I was bracing myself for a freakshow about emotional exhibitionists and I was proven wrong. This was an absolutely inspiring film for any photographer tapped into the complexities of photographing family. Gearon granted the film makers what seems to be total access to her and her family as she is working on a project about her mother. We see her juggling her newborn baby, directing her mom, and parenting her older kids all while she is making photographs that end up being the real "keepers" of the project. For anyone who is raising kids and trying to photograph them, Gearon's behavior and intensity just seemed to ring true: this isn't a photographer on an ad job where everything is taken care of, this is a woman handling all the roles of her life at the same time: mom, daughter, artist, provider, caretaker...all of these things, and doing it while a film crew is present.

The thing that makes Gearon's work so great, and I now do think it is great, is that she really allows a full range of emotions to come thru in her work. People tend to focus on the weird shots, of which there are many: kids in masks, kids peeing, lots of nudity involving people of every age, an emotional needy-ness between the adults as the kids just seem oblivious. But Gearon can also deliver the touching and beautiful moments that even the most un-savy viewer would think was moving: her nine year old boy holding the newborn in biblical light, her mom smiling at her in a moment of clarity, pride and confidence. The real moments round the project out and anchor all of the weirdness. But no question, the wierd shots and the touching shots seem to work in harmony to create this emotional punch.

all photographs by Tierney Gearon


gabriela herman said...

hey tim- as per your recommendation, just watched this film and was blown away! thanks

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