In Memoriam

Memories and Motherhood with Michael Cook

Against a strikingly empty, yet occupied Australian landscape, art photographer Michael Cook (1968-) has managed to capture the heavy, solemn weight of both motherhood and memory in a poignant moment—looking forward but also static, with the past still in easy view.

In Mother (Pedal Car), it is easy to see Cook’s own personal journey reflected. As an Indigenous man adopted by non-Indigenous parents, his comment on both the Stolen Generation and adoption trauma is overt. The Mother stands as if she is leaving, but is held back by the weight of the empty pedal car, of the absent child, as it anchors her to this singular point in her past.

Cook’s stylistic choices, in colour, clothing and staging, serve to evoke both a sense of unreality and quiet grief. The emptiness of the landscape mirrors the internal feelings of the Mother and her relationship to motherhood.

Mother (Pedal Car) was photographed in 2015 and displayed at Art Basel Hong Kong in 2016.