One incarnation of mother and daughter watching one another have sex is called porn. Another version involving mother and son is currently being called art.
The Guardian reports that Leigh Ledare photographed his mother, Tina Peterson, over the course of eight years having sex with various male lovers for a series entitled “Pretend You’re Actually Alive.” The former dancer (both exotic and ballerina) is reported to pose in provocative images, further charged with titles like “Mom Spread with Lamp” and “Mom Fucking in Mirror.” More compelling however than a nude woman in her 40s embracing younger men is the “no-holds-barred delineation of an extreme mother-son relationship,” says one observer.
Ladare says he was inspired to do the transgressive work due to the rather “troubled” relationship he has with his mother:
His decision to chronicle his troubled relationship with his mother, he says, started when he returned home one Christmas. “I arrived home not having seen her for a year and a half,” he recalls. “She knew I was coming and opened the door naked.” When Leigh walked in past the bedroom, “a young man, almost exactly my age, was sprawled out naked. He rolled over to see me, saying hello, before rolling back over and returning to sleep.” Ledare interpreted this welcome as “her way of announcing to me what she was up to, at this period in her life – almost as though to say, ‘Take it or leave it.’ I had a camera and began making photos of her then. She was the catalyst.”
The project, presumably anchored in pure shock value, is nevertheless couched in artistic language as Ladare considers if he was ever aroused during these photo sessions:
“I don’t know what to say …” he laughs. “There are many ways to be excited. Towards a sexual object, towards direct honesty and openness. I think already in the background there were some foggy boundary issues. What people talk about as being Oedipal – there’s a flirtation with that, but the boundaries were never actually crossed.” Ledare sighs at the idea of the work being taken so literally. “There’s a lot of emphasis on me being her son, but the work looks at archetypal relationships; also fantasy life and social conventions everybody who looks at it brings their own understanding of their own relationships. We end up displacing what is culturally taboo. The work is trying to look at those blind spots.”
Just going to keep repeating “consenting adults, consenting adults, consenting adults” to myself over and over.