The Hidden Mother
Linda Fregni Nagler
432 pages | 1002 colour plates
23.8 cm x 28.6 cm
Softcover with a die cut dustjacket
In the vein of Francis Alÿs’s Fabiola and Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, Linda Fregni Nagler has collected seemingly nondescript images and accumulated a meaningful archive, thereby giving them a renewed purpose and intensity.
The Hidden Mother is comprised of 1,002 photographs (from daguerreotypes and tintypes to cartes de visite and cabinet cards), all examples of a now redundant practice: to cloak or hide a parent within the background of a child’s portrait, a common procedure from the advent of photography up until the 1920s, when exposure times were relative slow, and a hidden parent was required to hold the child still.
These hidden mothers can be discerned in the background of every one of these portraits – looming behind their children, swaddled in blankets, carpets and brocades as they support their progeny as the central subject. The iterations vary, and in some instances the hidden mother is revealed as a single hand, while in others the child is seated on a shrouded figure, or the parent is quite literally hiding – ensuring that the child’s identity is transposed over their own.