Another day in the sedated community of suburban middle-England, the timely chime of a mail programme I still don’t fully understand luring me through the sea of plastic toys strewn around like, well a child’s playthings I suppose. The only one still here sits in his wooden playpen, his steely look of concentration silently alerts me to the obvious. He has shat himself. He doesn’t even cry which for some reason makes it worse. It’s as if he doesn’t even care any more.
A familiar email from a friend I never see, a friend transfixed with mildly funny videos of cats and dogs from around the world. I open them anyway; after all they are funny, mildly. Today is different though. No gyrating pets, canine or feline but a set of photographs. This was when I first became aware of Susan Copich.
Outside the safe middle-class mumsnet world, Susan’s work should strike a chord with mothers worldwide, answering as it did, the question, what on earth became of my dreams? I was a professional pianist now reduced to an accessory by modern social convention. I love my kids, I really do, but it’s a strange scenario that we create in order to foster that love.
It was a series of endless idioms that accompanied every decision in my life, as if perfect existence could be achieved by merely following a series of clichés. Every day from the loss of my childhood innocence to the obtrusive mother-in-law on my wedding day was governed by dated proverbs.
Susan’s work is satire crafted in real time, it is modern motherhood distilled into one photographic series.
Her work contains a wonderful subtlety. I was particularly struck with“Happy Days” and its depiction of the mother having gone to the trouble of making different eggs for an unresponsive husband.
So Christmas came and went with only the youngest of my quartet showing any interest in proceedings. The others reluctantly obliged in the great family get-together but it was obvious they wanted to get away. As for the husband, he may as well have been on Mars. “Old Habits” really exposes the true feeling behind the numerous family portraits that adorn mantelpieces worldwide.
Appearances can be deceiving, and Susan Copich’s photographs bring to light the charade of the ‘perfect’ family. Susan didn’t want to forget how she was when she was in her 20’s, and why on earth should she? None of us should. This is an expression of modern motherhood that stoically sticks two fingers up at the status quo.
“Social observation continues to fuel my inspiration. The use of humor allows me to mock the worlds I traipse through while permitting the viewer to live vicariously through the character. I project my thoughts into a frozen a moment in time, allowing the story to continually unfold in front of you. Explore the personal imperatives that are imposed on you, and confront your own darker thoughts.” — Susan Copich
Susan Copich lives in upstate NY, where she resides with her husband and two daughters. She is represented by Moen Mason Gallery. You can view more of her work on her website
Leanne Jenkins is a former pianist and mother of four, living in sunny Suffolk, England.