Art and Photography

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
1000 Families2 ¼32 Stories365 Days51 Months5x7A Child's Life and Other StoriesA Couple of Ways of Doing SomethingA Lifetime of SecretsA Storybook LifeA Treasury of Victorian MurderActing OutAddiction and ArtAEIOUAfter PhotographyAliveAlive with Alzheimer'sAlone Together POCAltered StatesAmazing WomenAmelia's WorldAmerica at HomeAmerican AlphabetsAmnesiaAn American LensAn Exact MindAngel's WorldAngry Youth Comix #2Anjos ProibidosAnthony GoicoleaArchitecture of AuthorityArt After Conceptual ArtArt and HomosexualityArt and PhotographyArt in Three DimensionsArt Photography NowArt, Self and KnowledgeArt/PornAs We AreAsylumAttitudeAutoportraitBecoming Edvard MunchBeg the QuestionBelugaBerkoBig Rabbit's Bad MoodBill HensonBlab!Blab! 13BLAB! Vol. 14BLAB! Vol. 15BlanketsBoneyardBoneyardBoy StoriesBreakdownsBright EarthBrüselBurn, Bitchy, BurnBus OdysseyBut Is It Art?CanvasCaricatureChildrenChris VereneChristy ReportCinema PanopticumClass PicturesClick DoubleclickCloserClumsyClyde Fans CoincidencesComing of AgeComing of Age in Ancient GreeceConceptual Art and PaintingConfessions of a Cereal EaterConsider LoveCouch FictionCrumpleCzech EdenCzech Photographic Avant-Garde, 1918-1948Dan & LarryDargerDays With My FatherDead EndDear MomDeus Ex MachinaDigital DiariesDirty StoriesDisasters of WarDixie RoadDomestic VacationsDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDon't You Feel BetterDr. Jekyll & Mr. HydeDrawingsDriftlessEarly ExposuresEcstasyEdouard VuillardEnduring CreationEngland, My EnglandEntering GermanyEpilepticErwin OlafEscape from "Special"EVAEverything Will DisappearEvidenceExploring the Self through PhotographyExposureExpressionism Exquisite CorpseFamilyFamilyFamily LifeFandomaniaFaster than a Speeding BulletFictionsFigure and GroundFragile DVDFred the ClownFreud at WorkFridaFrom Girls to GrrlzFun HomeGeneration DadaGirl CultureGirls, Some Boys and Other CookiesGoing Into TownGood-ByeGraphic WomenGrave MattersGreat Hiking Trails of the WorldH R GigerHans BellmerHappy Halloween, Li'L SantaHauntedHere Is New YorkHey, Wait...High Art LiteHollywood CowboyHouse of JavaHow Art WorksI Am Not This BodyI Love You But I've Chosen RockI Thought I Could FlyI'll Be Your MirrorI'm CrazyIllumineIn My Darkest HourIn Search Of DignityIn the Floyd ArchivesIn the Line of DutyInformation ArtsIntenseInvisible No MoreIt Was A Dark And Silly NightJack Cole and Plastic ManJimmy CorriganJock SturgesJock SturgesJust Between UsKafkaKatharina SieverdingLacan at the SceneLaura Numeroff's 10-Step Guide to Living with Your MonsterLife's a BitchLight in the Dark RoomLine of Beauty and GraceListening to CementLittle LitLi’l SantaLoadsLooking For MayaLost GirlLouis FaurerLouise BourgeoisLove and DesireLove Lust DesireLuckyManufactured LandscapesMass ObservationMaster BreastsMetacreationMisty DawnMnemosyneMomeMona KuhnMy Brain is Hanging Upside DownMy DepressionMy Family AlbumNatural BeautiesNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew and Used BLAB!New York September 11Night FisherNightswimmingNo More ShavesNot My ShameNotes from a DefeatistNothing ObviousNothing to HideNudes and PortraitsOliviaOlivia Saves the CircusOn City StreetsOne EyeOnly a Promise of HappinessOptic NerveOptic Nerve #11Optic Nerve #9Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & PiratesOutsider ArtOutsider Art and Art TherapyPanic at Toad HallPatrolPaul M. SmithPeculiaPeekPeople Love PhotosPerfect ExamplePersepolisPhilosophersPhonesexPhoto ArtPhoto Icons I (1827-1926)Photographers, Writers, and the American ScenePhotography and LiteraturePhotography and PhilosophyPhotography and SciencePhotography and the USA Photography RebornPicturing DisabilityPlaytimePOPismPortraits of ResiliencePostmodernismprettycitynewyorkPsychedelicQuestions without answersRaptors Raw YouthRay's a LaughRazmatazReclining NudeRed SnowRemembering GeorgyRequisite DistanceRineke DijkstraRippleRobert Doisneau 1912-1994Robert MaxwellRoom to PlayRXSame Difference & Other StoriesSanctumSatan's Sex BookSatellitesSchizophreniaSee Me Feel MeSelf-Taught and Outsider ArtSexSexual ArtSexyBookShadow ChamberSidewalk StoriesSkin DeepSleepwalkSmall FavorsSmile of the BuddhaSpectral EvidenceSpentSshhhh!Stranded in CantonStrange Stories for Strange Kids Stranger PassingStripped BareSummer BlondeSurrealismSymbols in ArtTestimonyThe Aesthetics of DisengagementThe AlcoholicThe Art InstinctThe Art of Adolf WolfliThe Art of MedicineThe BabiesThe Birthday RiotsThe Blue Day BookThe Blue NotebookThe BodyThe Body as ProtestThe Boulevard of Broken DreamsThe Breast BookThe Breathing FieldThe Bristol Board JungleThe Clouds AboveThe Devil and Daniel JohnstonThe Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Education of SophieThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Face in the LensThe Illustrated Story of OThe Incantations of Daniel JohnstonThe Madonna of the FutureThe Mirror of LoveThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New LifeThe Other PlaceThe PervertThe Philosophy of Andy WarholThe Places We LiveThe Psychology of Art and the Evolution of the Conscious BrainThe Push Man and Other StoriesThe Scar of VisibilityThe September 11 Photo ProjectThe Shiniest JewelThe Speed AbaterThe Steerage and Alfred StieglitzThe Story of Frog Belly Rat BoneThe Story of SexThe Stuff of LifeThe Three ParadoxesThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Transparent CityThe TravelersThe ValleyThe Van Gogh BluesThe Wolves in the WallsThe Yellow HouseThinThings as They AreThinking of YouTierney GearonTime and SilenceTina's MouthTits, Ass, and Real EstateTransitionTrauma and Documentary Photography of the FSATravelersTropical BlendTwentieth Century EightballTwilightUnlikelyVagina WarriorsVernacular VisionariesVietnam At PeaceVisual CultureVitamin PhWar Is Only Half the StoryWhat Are You Looking At?What Art IsWhat Good Are the Arts?What Remains: The Life and Work of Sally MannWho Am I, What Am I, Where Am I?Why Comics?William KentridgeWillie DohertyWithWriters on ArtistsYoung PhotographerZip Zip My Brain Harts

Related Topics
Tierney GearonReview - Tierney Gearon
The Mother Project DVD
by Jack Youngelson and Peter Sutherland (Directors)
Zeitgeist Films, 2007
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D.
Jun 25th 2007 (Volume 11, Issue 26)

Tierney Gearon is a photographer whose recent work has focused on her mother, who she says is manic depressive and schizophrenic.  We see her mother living alone in disarray, getting very emotional, and often making bizarre statements.  At one point, her mother says that she is the daughter of the abdicated King Edward and Bessie Wallace, and there is a price on her head for her murder.  In one remarkable section, her mother calls Gearon a god damn bitch, and says her daughter is deliberately stressing her out.  A little later her mother apologizes to the filmmakers for being so emotional, explaining that's how women are.  We start to see that one of Gearon's main concerns is whether she is like her mother, and she sees her photography as a mode of therapy to work through the emotional neglect she suffered through her own childhood.    

The documentary makers Jack Youngelson and Peter Sutherland worked on their film with Gearon for three years, and we see her with her children and her mother in some very personal situations.  They started in 2001, soon after Gearon came into notoriety after nearly being charged with making child pornography when the police investigate the naked pictures of her children in London's Saatchi gallery.  Although the accusation of making indecent pictures was ridiculous, this event made her question whether she was in fact a good mother.  Furthermore, the filmmakers also raise the question whether Gearon places her photography over her children.  They show her taking pictures of her son while he is crying rather than comforting him.  Some parents will be shocked to see Gearon having her own pictures taken for a book about contemporary photographers, because she is sitting naked in a bedroom surrounded by her son and other boys of the same age jumping around on the bed.  Later, when she sees the pictures published in the book, she worries that it will look bad.  Gearon also says she was raised without boundaries and her children are being raised without boundaries, and but goes on to say there's a difference.  The question is what the difference is.  Gearon emphasizes that she is not exploiting her family with her pictures, and she is just sharing her feelings with other people.  Yet obviously she is using her family for her photographs, and it is precisely the personal nature of the pictures that makes her so successful.  Near the end of the documentary, now older, her children say they don't feel entirely comfortable with the nude pictures of them.  So while the documentary is extremely sympathetic towards Gearon, it also leaves it an open question whether she has crossed the line in prioritizing her own work over her family. 

The film shows Gearon taking her pictures, and then the pictures themselves.  We also see old photographs and old home movies from Gearon's childhood, and this lends great depth to the documentary.  It helps us to see her experience as she talks about her memories of growing up with her mother, and the complexities of their current relationship.  The film ends on a beautiful note, with her mother praising Teirney's energy and saying how her daughter's photographs of her capture her life experience.  The sparse, plaintive music by Justin Marachacos really adds to the reflective dimension of the film. 

Gearon's early photographs of her family are dramatic and arresting, but all the indications are that this new work done during the period of this documentary will be even better.  Not many photographers have made subjects of mentally ill family members.  Richard Billingham's Ray's a Laugh showing his alcoholic parents is one of the few examples that come to mind, and Billingham seems alienated from them.  Gearon's photography is remarkably powerful, and this documentary makes it much easier to understand it.  While Youngelson and Sutherland show arguments between Gearon and her mother, they also show moments of real communication and tenderness.  We see her mother's craziness, and some elements of craziness in Gearon's own life.  She starts out living in London and then half way through becomes pregnant and decides to move to Los Angeles because she thinks it will be better for the children.  We see nothing about her relationship with her children's fathers, although she does say that her first marriage was not a success and she was keen to get out of it when she was starting her photography.  We do see her talk about her hopes that her new baby will bring her and her children together and will teach them to love, and maybe she is right about this, since we do see the older children bonding with the baby.  Often we see a loving and trusting relationship between Gearon and her own children.  Yet we also see Gearon struggle with creating boundaries for her children and it seems that there are times that she becomes so wrapped up in her photography that she becomes more of an observer than a caregiver for them.  The documentary collects all these strands and lays them out for the viewer to see, making the 70 minutes compulsive viewing that is often very moving. 

Highly recommended.  





© 2007 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.


Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Dowling College, Long Island. He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Reviews.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716