Lisa Sorgini

The subject of homecoming is no stranger to photographer Lisa Sorgini. Her work has connected women, mothers, and children from all around the world. Lisa’s distinctive photography is both romantic and real, showing the many faces of being a mother. Her play on light and dark is reminiscent of Dutch Old Master paintings, with a strong focus on colors and depth.

In our overview exhibition, we’re focusing on work from her latest book Behind Glass, on modern motherhood. 

So I guess the first question would be; where and what is home to you?
Home for as long as I have been a mother doesn’t feel geographical, instead, it is wherever my family is. Currently, I reside on the east coast of Australia, in a coastal town in Bundjalung country.

Interestingly enough your surroundings of bright sunny beaches and subtropical greens don’t show up in your work too much, what other influences do you see in your work?
I am subconsciously inspired by many things, my conscious inspirations are much harder to pin down and determine though. I can say that most of my inspiration is intangible; dreams, the senses, the heart and mind.

What inspired you to start Behind Glass? 
Behind Glass began in the early part of the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic.
It's really interesting to look back on now, nearly 2 years on. There was such a feeling of anxiety for the unknown, a looming threat that we had no similar foundation of reference to compare it to, in a lot of ways it felt like new motherhood.  At the time it seemed like a passing moment, that we were experiencing things so similarly on a worldwide scale and in a-lot of ways I'd never felt so connected to global humanity as we watched the cities, airports and landmarks in the busiest places on earth become deserted. Everyone was forced into their homes, time seemed to operate differently without all of the exterior markers of our modern society. 
On a personal level I felt like so many parents, a little paralyzed as to how to manage this new reality without the external support systems that are so enormously important. My youngest son was 6 months old and my eldest son was 5. When I decided to make this work and capture this time it created an instant sense of connection and for me a way to process this strange time, a feeling that was also reciprocated by all of the women involved. 


What was the function of the glass in this project? Authenticity?
The glass can be viewed in 2 ways. It can be interpreted as a protector from the outside world, keeping those behind it safe but it can also create distance, removing and isolating the subjects from any sort of connection.

We love how you also portray the mess and chaos that is motherhood - the reality of it, the utter moments of hopelessness- especially during COVID when you shot the project. Was there a bigger message here? 
Absolutely. When my son was first born and still 6 years on I have often felt alienated by the lack of representation of the complexities of motherhood. Society is at large obsessed with youth and the experiences of adolescence, another huge transformative life stage, and yet Matrescence is as significant in the vast changes that occur but the availability to see a range of motherhood experiences were not visible to me as a new mother. I wanted to explore this honestly and authentically to my experience.

What is your experience working on highly sensitive themes like motherhood and childhood as the work can be experienced equally warm and nostalgic as well as painful depending on who’s looking and their experiences in life. 
Growing up in a largely dysfunctional and far from perfect family I have always felt sensitive to the fact that trauma and grief can co-exist alongside deep love and care. As an artist, I am also aware of the fact that my intentions for the work can only translate so far and everyone will experience them individually based on personal experience. I try to be as honest and open in my own experiences as I am of those that share.

Behind Glass is an extension of your ongoing project In Passing. What does In Passing mean to you?
In Passing refers to the movement of time as well as the meaning referring to something that is only briefly spoken about, referring back to my experience of becoming a mother and the lack of representation in the difficult and painful experiences as part of that transformation.

What do you hope people will take from your works?
I’m hoping my work can be transformative but also enjoyable and touching. That my images are a small part of a broader framework in the expansion of the conversation around the real and honest experiences of motherhood.

What’s next for you? 
The pandemic has temporarily taken away my ability to make plans too far in advance but I know I wish to continue making work that challenges me and my ideas and that pushes me to be authentic and honest.
My bigger dream for the year is to spend more time in Europe and connect with my Italian heritage.

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