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Mom As Baby Jane
154,9 x 121,9 cm
Edition 3/5
Inv. Nr. 142
Photo: Courtesy the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery, London

Born in 1976 in Seattle, Washington, USA
Lives and works in New York City, New York, USA

The ensemble of photographs by Leigh Ledare in this collection also appears in the artist’s book, Pretend You’re Actually Alive, published in 2008, which made his work known to a wide audience. All of these photographs feature Tina Peterson, the artist’s mother, in her fifties, an influential muse of this project and a complex and highly extravert personality. As a teenager, Tina was a ballet prodigy, who danced for the New York City Ballet Company, for instance, but who turned to stripping when her career ended prematurely. For seven years, Ledare has been photographing her in her most intimate acts and attitudes, exploiting her need for recognition and her boundless and exhibitionist attitude. The trash and amateurish aesthetics of his pictures recalls the work of Nan Goldin – who incidentally invited him to an exhibition she curated in 2009 at Les Rencontre d’Arles – and Larry Clark – whom Ledare assisted in his early twenties. Straightforward pornographic images alternate with scenes of everyday life or highly staged compositions that portray Tina, impersonating with ease one role after another, once a mother, then a dancer, a porn actress, a costumed model or a woman aware of ageing. Pretend You’re Actually Alive is not only an archive of the artist’s relationship with his mother but also digs into the intimacy of his brother and sister-in-law facing drug issues, of his own wife and of his declining grandparents and the intertwined relationships between them all. The book brings together Ledare’s photographs with diary notes, old pictures from the family albums and archive documents such as the cover of the 17 Magazine featuring a young Tina at the height of her career. At first sight, this ensemble depicts a shocking and disturbing mother-and-son relationship based on incestuous voyeurism. But at a deeper level, it questions the constitution of the self as a subject, through our projected desires, narcissism and the way we put on a performance in front of others.