I’m fascinated by the work of Caroline Furneaux, especially The Mothers I Might Have Had.
Furneaux’s project stems from found images of her father’s previous (before her mother) girlfriends and is a whistle stop tour of fantasy and imaginings sprinkled with a healthy dash of voyeurism and play.
Her gaze across the images is playful and searching, trawling as it does across the eyes of these former girlfriends, their knees, their busts, their knees.
You wonder what Furneaux is searching for, is it some semblance of similarity to her own body? If it is, it is a playful reversal on the doubted paternity theme since the very fact of birth usually renders maternity a given.
Or is she searching for her father’s gaze across the contours of these women, her mother’s imagined or potentially real rivals? I sense it is a mixture of both.
I have not had the experience of viewing these images in an exhibition setting, but understand from Colin Pantall they were originally staged through old Gaf Viewmasters, a toy which I remember owning as a child.
It is a novel way of engaging an audience with the work for sure. But I am left with a slight sense of unease that such staging renders these real women to the status of play things.
For my own project Other Mothers, Furneaux work is challenging me to consider very carefully what I am asking of my own found images and how they might be displayed.
Caroline Furneaux. (n.d.). / The Mothers I Might Have Had. [online] Available at: http://www.carolinefurneaux.com/-the-mothers-i-might-have-had/7sjpojget5lkbr431hved1ur0qpsrs [Accessed 27 Feb. 2021].