Leigh Ledare photographed his mother having sex. Not for his own enjoyment, but as part of a new photography exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery in London. According to the Guardian, the photos taken by the New York-based Ledare will be included in a group show entitled “Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity.”
The photographs feature Ledare’s mother, Tina, having sex with various younger men and posing in sexually explicit positions. Even the titles of some of the photographs aren’t for the faint of heart: “Mom Spread with Lamp” and “Mom F****g in Mirror,” among others.
As the Guardian points out, the photographs were previously included in Ledare’s 2008 book, “Pretend You’re Actually Alive.”
Ledare, 36, decided to start photographing his mother when he arrived at her house for Christmas one year, the Guardian reported. "I arrived home not having seen her for a year and a half," Ledare said. "She knew I was coming and opened the door naked."
As Ledare walked past the bedroom, he noticed "a young man, almost exactly my age, was sprawled out naked. He rolled over to see me, saying hello, before rolling back over and returning to sleep." According to Ledare, this was "her way of announcing to me what she was up to, at this period in her life -- almost as though to say, 'Take it or leave it.' I had a camera and began making photos of her then. She was the catalyst."
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"The work spanned eight years," Ledare told the Guardian. "I moved between different feelings -- uncomfortable, absurd, funny. She would present herself to me, and through me, in a very confrontational way."
When asked if he ever got aroused during the project, Ledare offered up a very cagey response. "I don't know what to say …," he said. "There are many ways to be excited. Towards a sexual object, towards direct honesty and openess. I think already in the background there were some foggy boundary issues. What people talk about as being Oedipal -- there's a flirtation with that, but the boundaries were never actually crossed."
According to the Guardian, Ledare’s mother, Tina, is a former ballerina who danced at the New York City Ballet. She also dabbled in modeling before becoming a stripper when her career didn’t pan out.
"There's a lot of emphasis on me being her son, but the work looks at archetypal relationships; also fantasy life and social conventions everybody who looks at it brings their own understanding of their own relationships,” Ledare said. “We end up displacing what is culturally taboo. The work is trying to look at those blind spots."
Ledare’s photographs will be featured in the “Home Truths: Photography, Motherhood and Identity” exhibit at Photographers’ Gallery in London until Jan. 5, 2014. Click here for a small sampling from the new exhibit.