I Made Them Run Away

(2017-2019)
Photography, Archive Material, Text

‘It was summer and as many children did, I spent my days in a summer camp. One night I was very excited when I came home and after having had dinner with my grandmother I went upstairs, where my mother and I lived, with the intention of going to sleep. As I entered, I saw my mother and a man sitting on the couch watching television. My mother asked me how my day had been and I couldn’t stop myself from showing both of them what I had learned. I started dancing and singing in front of the television for about 10 minutes, until the man interrupted my performance by saying “It’s late, I’d better go.”, followed by my mother’s glare towards me. Having said goodbye to the man, my mother came back in the house yelling at me: “How is it possible that you make them all run away?”.’”(Martina Zanin)

I Made Them Run Away is a multi-layered story weaving together family archive and photographs with texts written by the artist’s mother. It brings together memories from the past and feelings of the present to explore the dynamics of affective relationships – the need for attention, the expectations that cause disillusionment, insecurity and judgment. Shifting between the different points of view, Zanin depicts the recurring complicated triangle relationship between she, her mother and the “man”, a not-constant multiple figure, mostly represented as an absence in the work. 

Fantasizing about a man she was never able to have, the artist’s mother wrote her thoughts and desires to an imaginary man in a diary entitled Letters to a man I have never had. The poetical and wistful writing, clash with the torn family images, of which her mother has preserved only her figure, or the one of the daughter, tearing off all her ex-boyfriends, creating objects saturated with anger and loneliness. Every other picture is the reconstruction and expression of feelings and sensations that emerged from the past and became apparent in the present. Zanin explored her refusal and discomfort for the male figure to find answers and reconstruct the lack caused by her mother and by the psychological mechanism of removal. A sort of rebellion is depicted, almost a revenge, a repossession of her own person, of womanhood.

I Made Them Run Away gives shape to motherhood in a different acceptation — as a woman in search for love and struggling with solitude — making room for those feelings which are often denied to girls and women, such as anger, disgust, grief, and power. The interplay of perspectives created a dialogue between mother and daughter in two different moments in time, reflecting on the role of the past, and exploring the coexistence and transition of opposite feelings within relationships, such as compassion and anger, attraction and repulsion, love and hate.