Eti Wade is an artist and academic based in North London. She is the programme leader for the MA Photography at the University of West London. Her visual art practice is a personal investigation into the limits of maternal subjectivity, which she typically expresses using photography or video. Wade also writes theoretically on the subject of the maternal gaze in contemporary photographic art. She is a mother to three boys aged 19, 12 and 3.
Jocasta (2008) is a series of photographic images taken using a scanner. The artist uses her own image and that of one of her three sons pressed up and distorted against the glass plate of the scanner. From the artist's view, the mother can be seen as an omnipotent, multi-headed hydra, engulfing the child from all directions suffocating and overpowering him. Alternatively, she suggests that we could view the happening as one of compassion; as a mother's desperate attempt to become everything for her child, and to avoid the pains of imminent loss and separation. Jocasta is performative to the degree that Wade refers to the scanner plate as 'the stage' upon which she is able to use her son's body as a prop and enact maternal fears and desires. In the words of the artist: 'I perform my deep passion towards my son and enjoy joyous immersion in the sensual pleasure of his body. I explore the ideas of maternal loss and anticipate feelings of desperation.' Throughout her oeuvre, Wade endeavours to investigate varying aspects of a difficult and/or repressed experience of maternity. She considers her childrens' bodies to be canvases needed in the projection of her own complex and culturally invisible subjectivity and, in this respect, the artist's work stands as an inversion of the idea of an objectified mother existing only in subservience to her child.