Eti Wade

© Eti Wade, 'Kisses', 2002,

Eti Wade (UK, London)
Kisses (2001)


I consider this work my rawest expression of maternal ambivalence. The image forms part of my ongoing effort to express complex and unpalatable maternal subjectivity. The marks the mother makes on her child’s body fuses female sexuality, desire, maternal love, violence and aggression all in one simple gesture. Although the medium is photography, I consider the work painterly and performative, crossing boundaries of artistic form and intent on challenging and discomforting audiences.

The image was created as part of a series of artistic explorations of motherhood I conducted with my middle son throughout his early years. This session resulted in my son’s body covered in blood red kiss marks. The images are brightly lit and almost clinical in presentation. The kisses may be interpreted as bruises, they convey excessive and aggressive love. The body is severed and objectified – only the torso is visible.

Eti Wade’s artistic practice has been focused on the maternal since the birth of her middle son in 2000. Her work has been exhibited and is held in collections in the UK and USA. She is currently completing her doctoral thesis ‘The mother as subject and author in contemporary visual art’.