Tirsa Delate Fine Arts Senior Thesis Project
Haverford College. Department of Fine Arts
Place of Publication
Table of Contents
Each time my mother has been diagnosed with cancer, the bond that we share has been tested. In the past, we always joked about her never getting colds, just cancer. Currently, she is undergoing treatment for her sixth cancer diagnosis and her second ovarian cancer recurrence. The most recent recovery period has taken a toll on both her physical abilities and our relationship. Over the course of a few months she lost her ability to breathe normally, walk, and live independently. This series of images began as an outlet for me to cope with her illness without having to embrace my emotions. During the initial months of her current diagnosis, every time I interacted with her it was confined to the Havertown apartment she moved into to receive treatment at Bryn Mawr hospital. I realized I was resentful and angry and felt abandoned by the person who was supposed to take care of me. The photographs I made during this period were an expression of my psychological mindset through the representation of our disconnected and distanced bodies. Recently, she has made significant strides in her health and mobility and the photographs are more collaborative and explore our metaphysical, emotionally connected state. The images enter a dreamy, alternate realm that represents the intimate relationship that has reemerged. Our relationship is not simple, and even though she has improved the photographs reflect the complex nature of our bond and her illness. I perform in the images, trying to expunge the sick part of her. They represent a relationship that is tumultuous and unconditional and illustrate the tenuous connection between our bodies and psyches. The video piece depicts the vulnerability and corporeality of my mother’s body. The close-up shots reveal details and abstractions of her form and illustrate the differences between my body and hers. Breathing is a vital part of being alive that is often quiet and goes unnoticed. The constant breathing in the video is akin to a pulse that ties my mother and me to each other in a temporal space. This series is a constructed narrative that represents our relationship and all the complexities that come with it.