Hidden Mothers: Re-& Enactment of Emotional Labor

Mothers go to extraordinary lengths for their children. For “Hidden Mother Photography” in Victorian times, shutter speeds were sometimes up to 30 seconds long so mothers would hide within the picture to hold their children still. Mothers revealed and concealed themselves, in order to create a “permanent document” of their children’s “identities”. This emotional labor is considered “invisible labor” because it is unpaid, undervalued, and often goes unnoticed in our culture. Instead of concealing their identity, I propose that the emotional labor these mothers perform actually REVEALS much about their identity–their ingenuity, inventiveness, commitment, and emotional labor and strength. My “moving portrait of emotional labor” pictures the process of photographic portraiture. I reenact their labor, along with enacting my own, as I pay tribute to the unpaid “hidden” labor of mothers that is performed universally, continually, unfailingly, throughout the world, thus monumentalizing it as collective and “visible”.