text by Alex Schuchmann / pictures by Lisa Sorgini / 10min
Lisa Sorgini, born in the eighties and a mother-of-two living in the Northern New South Wales (Bundjalung Country), documents the bittersweet, overwhelming, and relentless nature of motherhood: the constant experience of maternal obligations, the mysterious passage of time, as well as the connection we have to society in the midst of a global pandemic. Over the last two years, Covid has changed how the world understands the meaning of society and the role it plays, forcing many communities to function in a more united way.
Sorgini's infatuation with motherhood and home life began after her child, Ari, who was born in 2015, and progressed after her second child, Elio, born in 2019. Documenting the emotional and intellectual transformation that motherhood prompted for her – the intricate dimensions of intimacy and the heightened sensory experiences of living off little to no sleep – ultimately led her to step out of her own life as a mother to begin photographing the lives of other family units. Her images display the most tender and fleeting moments of motherhood but rarely show specific identities. Tiny hands gripping at clothing and skin. For example, a delicate assemblage of flesh set against the backdrop of hushed familiarity depicts the tension between the overwhelm and the mundanity of these early experiences of motherhood: love and affection, intensity and neediness, claustrophobia and inescapability.
Lisa Sorgini has created a series of projects over the last few years, one of which is her “Behind the Glass” exhibit, depicting mothers and their children experiencing isolation in their homes during mandatory social distancing in Australia. In it, mother and child appear like living and sentient masterpieces, divine pleasantries of domesticity. Other recent projects include “In passing”, and “Mother”.
Through her images, Lisa works to make the unseen seen. “The obstacles of motherhood and women's experience are diminished within society,” she explains. Combining political and social pressures with the multifaceted love of a parent, she also wants her images to shed light on the representation of motherhood within mainstream media, as well as to build hope and mutual awareness: mothers joined through a collective experience. "It's like I am capturing the lineage of time through my imagery,” she fondly expresses, “observing the beauty of all generations through the eyes of your children, and my work will continue to grow with them.”
We had the opportunity to speak with Lisa Sorgini about the knowledge and emotional weight, dependency, solitude, and the sociological aspects of motherhood.