A part of Leigh Ledare’s body of work forms an archive of the artist’s relationship with his mother. At the age of fifty, Tina Peterson, former ballerina, and later stripper, approached her son to document her sex life for posterity. Ledare’s portraits of his mother show subversive reactions, cases of sexuality and vulnerability – the artist suggests that the complex subjectivity of his mother does not result from the failure to perform a variety of roles, but from the occupation of an abundance of imagined modes, rooted in the performative.
The continuous shifts between the performative and the real, and the public and the private are played out in three video works: Shoulder, The Gift and The Model, exploring the agency carried as artist/muse, son/mother, archivist/performer.
The video Shoulder starts with Ledare’s mother casually talking about her current relationship, followed by Ledare offering a shoulder for her
to cry on. When Ledare steps out of the frame, we’re left with a woman seeming desolate, being left to contemplate what it means for Ledare to exit. In that sense its proposition encapsulates their entire relationship.
The Gift was created from existing video footage originally intended for a soft-core commercial fetish video shot by Ledare’s mother and two family friends. The tapes were sent unsolicited to the artist on condition that he create something with the otherwise discarded material. Ledare responded by editing out all aspects of the filmmaker’s original intention, making visible the real armature for the filmmaker’s missing narrative.