About No Ma

No Ma is a photographic portrait project about women who are not mothers and are certain that they never will be. These women may not have had children because they simply didn’t want to, or because they were unable to due to either fertility or health issues, or because of other factors in their lives.

I am interested in understanding what it means for different women not to be mothers and how this affects the way they see themselves. Can the issue of maternity generate certain feelings of lack of biological and/or personal achievement? On the other hand, what potential is there for a woman to have a life and an identity separate from motherhood?

This project has been developed in a participatory way. I held initial interviews with each of the women involved. We started with a conceptual obstacle: What does it mean not to be a mother? There is no one obvious gesture or action that one can directly associate with the fact of not having children. How is it possible to photograph the absence of something? The portrait of the ‘No Mother’ may be almost impossible.

The project looks at the subject of ‘no motherhood’ from diverse perspectives, through varied experiences. My photographic intention was to produce a body of work where each portrait expresses feelings in relation to particular circumstances. The visibility of the shared fact of not being mothers ultimately came through a gesture: The gesture of self-assertion of every single woman that has taken part in the project and has shared her particular story.

About the trilogy

No Ma is the second part of a trilogy that aims to question what it is to be human, by exploring issues of subjectivity in relation to health and disease, 'lack' as a corporeal condition and the imaginary around the body and its control. The first project of this trilogy, 'Sleepless', looks at people who sleep very little; and the third, 'Trans', is about people who have had an organ transplant and how this experience may have an impact on their sense of identity. One of the main challenges of this trilogy is to visually explore aspects of the human condition that are not visible.

The motivation behind this trilogy is to address vital experiences that somehow transgress the notion of a 'normal' human subject (established and defined by social norms through scientific/cultural discourse) in order to challenge conventional understandings of the human subject.