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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Shall I be mother?

by Mark Tedeschi

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009 Finalist

This apparently conservative, traditional family unit is in fact all one person, my lifelong friend, Josie McSkimming. I used Josie as my model, as I felt that she could transcend the gender and age differences. This is probably because Josie is a social worker and counsellor who has worked for more than 20 years with families and couples. Many of her clients are dissatisfied with the defined roles in their lives and want her help in breaking out of them. During the shoot, she was more concerned about bridging the age gap than the gender gap, which I thought said something about her. She was flattered when I said that she made a very handsome man. The image is an exploration of the interchangeability and fluidity of gender and age roles. The image also refers to the trend in modern western societies towards 'families' of one, in which an individual has more freedom of choice over gender and age related identity issues. The question 'Shall I be mother?' is a wordplay on the phrase used when one person (often a male) is offering to serve tea to a group. This mocking distortion of the traditional English tea ceremony epitomises the modern day battleground over gender identity and roles.

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009

Other NPPP photos from Mark Tedeschi

Rocking the boat, 2006 by Mark Tedeschi
NPPP 2007 Finalist
Creative angst, 2011 by Mark Tedeschi
NPPP 2012 Finalist

Related information

Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne
Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne
Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne
Cormac and Callum, 2008 by Ingvar Kenne

National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009

Previous exhibition, 2009

In its second year at the National Portrait Gallery, and for the first time touring to other venues, the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2009 continues to present surprising perspectives on the nature of contemporary portrait photography.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.