One Photographer Constructs A Fictional Narrative Centered Around a Single Mother and Her Two Daughters Over 22 Years

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Amy, Brooklyn 1991

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Amy, Beth & Val, Brooklyn 1992

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Val and Beth, Brooklyn 2007

When Los Angeles-based photographer Zsolt Kadar first met Amy in Brooklyn in 1991, he could not have foretold his decades-long collaboration of the woman, who would become a single mother of two girls, Beth and Val, in the years following. From that first encounter until 2009, the photographer would visit and revisit her home multiple times each year, observing the evolution of the three women as they stepped boldly into the 21st Century.

Although all of the images from Kadar’s A Life Worth Living were shot in Amy’s house, the artist stresses that they do not reflect the family’s real life but present a fictional narrative that runs parallel to it. He was inspired, he notes, by the Museum of Modern Art’s concurrent exhibition The Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort, and he was compelled to find moments of universal significance within the routine goings on of this particular household.

The scenarios, the photographers notes, were sometimes formulated in his own mind, but at other times they were manifestations of long-ago memories that persisted as Amy and the girls grew, recollections so momentous that they had to be reproduced through make-believe. In this way, the staged scenes become a way of navigating and coping with the intimacy and confusion of a single-parent home. A Life Worth Living, ultimately, is a fantasy, but it’s one that cuts through the mundanity of the domestic experience to reveal an emotional reality, one that is both mystifying and recognizable, painful and life-affirming.

Kadar has continues to return to Brooklyn and photograph the women for his ongoing project True to Life. When asked to provide an example of an actual day in the life of of Amy, Beth, or Val, Kadar insists that extraneous details and facts are irrelevant. What matters, he says, is what can be intuited from each moment; “Talking about what happens outside the picture frame is a little like talking about the weather on the day I made the picture,” writes the artist.

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Amy, Brooklyn 1992

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Beth and Val, Brooklyn 2004

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Beth, Brooklyn 2005

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Amy, Brooklyn 2005

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Amy, Brooklyn 2008

Val Love Brooklyn

Val, Broolyn 2008

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Beth, Brooklyn 2008

Amy and cat bathtub

Amy, Brooklyn 2009

Brooklyn Beth Cat

Beth, Brooklyn 2007

All images © Zsolt Kadar

via Mutant Space

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