I could not see my dead mother. When someone does not see the corpse of a beloved one, the reality of his or her passing generates doubts.
Her life was one of fantasy. She created a fictional character for every family member, friend, or acquaintance. She wasn’t only one person; she was many people, all different but all together in one.
Her eccentric life, full of mysteries, illusions and utopias, and the fact that I couldn’t see her dead body gave way to the most extravagant fantasies about her.
I am chased down by the idea that her disappearance could be another act of her twiddly personal novel.
Sometimes I think I can see her walking down the street, I can recognize her in some blonde mane dyed in the style of Susana Gimenez. I perceive her in some other woman walking just a few steps in front of me, in the scent of her Van Cleef’s perfume. Could that woman be her? Everything is possible. That fantasy hounds me. There is not certainty.
And that is the way they arrived, my mothers, my mother. All different, but all together in one. Like a game between what she could be, what she would be, of what it means to be different people and just one.
I got there, to the weekend sales and auctions by chance. I found stories in them, many stories of families. Stories of women, of mothers. I didn’t meet them. I only knew their homes, their children, their nephews, their grandchildren. Many love stories, some of heartbreak. Life stories of women, the vast majority alone. Their children’s memories. They were detached of their belongings. Sometimes, there is a complete lack of interest, and some other times the attachment seeks to prolong the presence of that loved one. Families attached to stories of revenge and jealousy between brothers. But all of them are absence, mourning and memory stories.
Over the months I got to understand that what was happening there was far more than a purely commercial act. Families were in grief. They were mourning not only their loved one, but often the space in which they all had lived.
A mourning process that I could not experience due to the strange circumstances surrounding the death of my mother.
For two years I joined others in their grief to do mine.
At the beginning I just took photos of their homes, almost monastic spaces where those ones absent had lived.
Then, by means of several performances, I started playing the role of the person who lived there, by wearing her clothes, by interacting with her spaces. The camera, static. Life moving.
Mother is not there anymore. The “mother house” stands there, the maison mère, and her heirs, responsible for emptying it, recovering objects, preserving the memory, passing family legacies.
Maison mère is that: life after death, the following stage, what it remains when we are no longer there, when we are gone.
The mother, the mothers, they.
The only one.
The one that gave us life.
The one who allows life to continue, allows the species to reproduce.
The carrier of DNA.