‘Photo Therapy: Mother Work’ was executed in collaboration with Rosy Martin between 1986 until 1988, a few years after they began the Photo Therapy series around motherhood and the relationships between mother and daughter. Here Spence shows herself quite literally doing a mother’s work, holding a plate filled with food, ready to be served to her waiting family. In the first image she appears as the more conventional construction of the mother: she’s happy and willing to serve. But in the following two images it becomes apparent through her facial expressions and gestures that she is unhappy, almost as an automaton. Spence said it was only though Photo Therapy that she really began to understand her mother and empathize with her. Here you can see her slowly opening herself up to the camera’s lens as her face articulates these different series of emotions.
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