On this project
„What do you know about your mother’s childhood?“, is the defined opening question for each interview. Each time said question is asked, the same thing happens and gives me the exact same goosebumps. Said women, mother or daughter, fill the environment: inimitable, powerful.
This show is a collection of my close encounters with quite diverse women. Since the start of this work in 2017, 45 women have shared with me their mothers’ stories in unusually brave and trusting ways. At recording time the youngest daughter was nine years of age, the oldest was ninety-six.
The project started as a personal collection of stories about my own family. Talking to my mother about my grandmother and to my grandmother about my great-grandmother led to conversations with other women. While listening to different stories I, the photographer, got interested in gestures and other visual heritage of body-language being passed on from mothers to daughters. This lead to the present shape of the project: a series of significant photographs of daughters accompanied by audio recordings of their mother’s retold biographies.
The project is an experiment of perception, I am interested in collecting different perspectives of different women on their mothers.It does not intend to reveal an individual‘s private life to a prying public. But personal stories shared collectively make public sharing possible. Protagonists appearing together create a safe space and a common ground of expression, that way diverting facts, feelings, secrets, truths and myths away from judgement.These microcosmic tales create a macrocosmic context. What I observe in my exhibition-spaces: while looking at the photos and listening to the interviews an exchange of emotion is processed, maybe similar to the processed emotions I feel during the sessions myself. This, paradoxically, works fully independent from the truth content or proofed facts of what is being told. For me it is a way of sensing togetherness and crossing borders.
Sharing stories of my own family used to feel like revealing secrets. Maybe this is the meaning of the Finding Motherland project in a nutshell: I did not want to be alone in sharing family history. I needed to find myself some allies who share their own, alongside me.
Franzi Kreis, Vienna, February 2020
Workshops: Jana Kriechbaum
Documentation: Karin Gruber, Lukas Beck
Assistance Interviews & Editorial Office Moscow: Kseniia Degtyareva
Translations Russian: Prof. Mag. Nieves Cavic-Podgornik, Marina Kharitonova
Translations English: Esther Pruckner
Editorial Office English: Elisabeth Pozzi-Thanner
Translations Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: Doc. dr. Irma Duraković
Public Relations: Lena Fuchs
& oh! So many more.