Past | Artist Talks

Laura Larson Hidden Mother

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Artist and Ohio University professor Laura Larson reads from her new book, Hidden Mother, and discusses the project’s relationship to her multimedia studio practice. The term “hidden mother” refers to the once-widespread practice of concealing a mother's body—often under ghostly fabric—as she supported her child during the lengthy exposures demanded by early photographic technology. In her new book, Larson enlists these images to present a lyrical account of becoming a mother herself, mapping the adoption of her daughter from Ethiopia through these strange and haunting portraits. A selection of “hidden mother” photographs from Larson’s collection will be on view outside the Film/Video Theater February 27–March 5.

Larson’s practice encompasses photography, film, video, digital media, and writing. The assumption of objectivity that still accompanies photography—the desire to trust the apparatus, and our eyes—is a central concern of her work. Mining the intersection between documentary and poetic practices, her subjects range from dollhouses to dirty hotel rooms to the paranormal. Larson has produced several projects with the support of the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio Program, including Electric Girls and the Invisible World (2009) and Channeling (2014). Exhibited internationally, her work is represented by Lennon, Weinberg, Inc. in New York. Larson currently serves as cochair and associate professor in the Photography and Integrated Media program of Ohio University’s School of Art and Design.

“Poignant, haunting photographs, meticulously collected and assembled, combine with an urgent prose narrative to make this book at once a page-turner and a volume of fascination to linger on and revisit many times over.”—Moyra Davey

“Throughout Hidden Mother, a book of enormous feeling and sensitivity, Larson explores...the paradoxical functions of the photographic object as a device that both creates and collapses emotional and physical distance....Larson's narrative weaves together photographic history, process, and material and her own story of adoption.” —Carmen Winant

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Laura Larson Hidden Mother