Known for her unflinching self-portraits, Israeli-American photographer Elinor Carucci has always used her body and her relationships as the primary subjects for her work. When she became pregnant with twins, she again turned the camera on herself, recording the raw and intensely physical process of becoming a mother as well as the intimate and messy details of caring for small children.
Carucci has been a photographer since she was 15. Her images of private moments with her parents, her husband and her struggle with pain are simultaneously unsentimental and luminous. While Carucci is comfortable revealing her most private moments, the series, Born, which opened in New York this week, was something new. ”I was pointing my camera at the pregnancy because it took over me, it was the focus of those nine months. Of course, [I was] functioning, I was working, it was a very dramatic event. I felt very different than how I usually do.”
Born is the first chapter of Carucci’s chronicle of motherhood taking her through 2008 when her twins were toddlers. “In Eden and Emmanuelle the first month, you really get the tradition of what we’re used to seeing—motherhood as portrait, Madonna and child. You really see those beautiful magical moments where you cannot believe the connection and the physical warmth of the baby in your hands. On the other hand, you go through the difficult times—you’re tired, the constant need to breastfeed them. This I feel is less documented in photography and I am shocked by how those moments live side by side.”
Her relationship with her husband Eran has been central to her previous work (Closer and Crisis) so his near absence from Born is striking. He appears only in one image, Feeling me, 2004. “Like many women, motherhood really took over me,” she explains. “It was very much about me being a mother and [the] strong, unusual bond with the kids. Even though Eran really helped me—he’s a big part of my work technically and conceptually—I felt it was more about me and the kids, the three of us as one unit.”
Her children are now school age and Carucci continues to record their lives (an image from her more recent work on the right). “I am still photographing the kids, but it is in a different stage. Some of the images I am working on now have been shot outside. I moved outside because they’re moving away from me. I am following them into America.”