Copathetic is a collaboration exploring a child’s incessant need to be nurtured countered by a woman’s efforts to uphold the societal constructs of motherhood. The struggle between these two domestic identities leads to a reticence toward the demand to nurture, resulting in critical shifts of perspective. These defining moments resonate through the formative years into adulthood.
The work spans various points in the respective lives of child and parent, pivoting from breastfeeding to beautifying, from encouragement to exhaustion, and from protection to punishment. Scenes unfold through a lens of satirical parody, utilizing the inconsistent ages of the actors, the bending of gender norms, and visually oblique angles to represent the adult tendency to skew recollection when reliving the experiences of childhood. In recreating these moments, Copathetic sardonically evokes the claiming, re-working, and transformation of remembered experience, where rose-colored glasses come off and the wear-and-tear of parenting becomes evident in both mother and child. The work explores the contemporary notion that a parent’s successes can or should be judged by a child’s state of happiness; where if the child isn’t always content with their life the parent has somehow failed.
Mixing idealized fantasy with sticky reality to create part funny, part weird, part warped, and part touching tableaus, the images make use of shifts in meaning associated with scale, age, time, objects, and gender to present an alternate reading of the parent/child relationship.