Santina Amato

La Mamma e La Figlia

This photo series continues my work using bread dough as metaphor for the abject, and the physical making of this material a commentary on the emotional and physical labour women carry to support personal and professional relationships. The series documents the process of making a large amount of bread dough in my childhood kitchen, a room that is definitely the heart of our Italian family to this day. I asked my mother to dress me for the shoot. Of course, she chose a pure white, really feminine dress, and an apron, all symbols of the perfect housewife in her eyes. The apron was something I rejected as a child as I understood it as a symbol of a role I did not want to adopt, even though I really enjoyed cooking and still do. As my mother sat at the kitchen table watching (or supervising), I used my whole body to work the dough.


These photos capture my love and frustration when thinking about the role labour has in my life. I love using my body to create stuff and feeling its strength but I hate the expectations my mum places on me, till this day, that because I am female, my body and labour are at her disposable.


But as intense as it is to look after the elders in our families and watch their demise from strong, larger-than-life figures in our lives to fragile, confused beings, there is joy. The joy that they are still with us. The last photograph in the series reminds me to embrace that joy. It reminds me that even though there is emotional and physical labour in looking after our family members who are in their twilight years and on their way out, with a certain level of expectation placed upon you as caretakers which can be debilitating, they are still with us and we have so much more to share.

2023. Photo Ross Coulter

2023. Photo Ross Coulter

2023. Photo Ross Coulter

2023. Photo Ross Coulter

2023. Photo Ross Coulter