• Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

  • Untitled, from the series Conversations With My Mother. © Jessa Fairbrother.

Showcase: Jessa Fairbrother

Jessa Fairbrother was recently invited to attend the BPB Portfolio Reviews with this series, Conversations with My Mother.

Jessa Fairbrother

This is my story of severance.

It explores the relationship I had with my mother and my own inability to become one… a photographic performance of being cut from the role of daughter while at the same time denied a maternal role to shape my future.

We had been tentatively making work together taking photographs of our own lives on a single disposable camera, posting it to communicate through process. 

Shortly after my fertility began to unravel. I couldn’t concentrate on my story because it was then we both found out she was going to die.

In the immediate moment I was concerned with the gesture to record her as she was but felt the photograph’s inability to do this. I  photographed myself responding to the surroundings, to negotiating space. Once or twice I asked my mother to photograph me, echoing the way we had used a camera only a few months before. I tried to make sense of things that had no sense except sadness.

I jostled with several personas during this period – wife, daughter, sister, artist. I gained new roles and became Carer. I became child-less…. or child-free. We strived to understand and love each other more completely; we looked at each other seeking resemblance, resentment, entanglement and reliance. I became Orphan. 

An orphan. 

I put on her chemotherapy wig afterwards – it was the only thing that smelled of her. I burned, buried and embellished photographs of us. I performed my grief and began to stitch.

I cried a lot for her. I cried for my loss of feeling the hug of her body, her touch, her laugh. I cried in sorrow at the abrupt suspension of future narratives, for the mother I would not hold again and for the child who would never hold me.

See here for more of Jessa’s work.

'Untitled' from the series Single Saudi Women. © Wasma Mansour.
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