Composed in its entirety of photographs, written anecdotes and ephemera, the materials from Leigh Ledare’s first book, Pretend You’re Actually Alive, assert themselves as a searingly intimate investigation of the artist’s complex and ambivalent relationship with his mother. At the age of 50, Ledare’s mother, a once-promising prodigy ballerina, began to cultivate an exceedingly sexualised persona. Ledare views his mother’s tactics as being simultaneously directed towards strategic and subversive ends. In effect casting her son to document her for posterity, her efforts towards creating a highly sexualised representation of herself can be seen as a gesture of annihilation towards expectations imposed upon her by the determined structures of family. Conversely, her impulses exhibit an active engagement in a highly sexualised economy, as well as a means of shielding herself from the reflection of her own ageing. Ledare views the book as a site for brokering the complexities of both his and his mother’s respective relationships to representation, desire, collaboration and authorship.
Ledare suggests his mother’s complicated subjectivity stems not from her failure to perform various roles but from her occupation of an abundance of imagined modes, rooted in the performative, which cannot be reconciled. It is in these continuous shifts between the poles of the performative and the real, the private and the public, that Ledare traces the, structures of desire relating to their artist/muse, mother/son relationship. Ledare regards his work as being collaborative in nature. His interests focus on investigating the affective dimensions of photography and video, revealing the ways in which social interactions and interpersonal relationships create spaces for the emergence of the subject.
Leigh Ledare is represented by Greene Naftali Gallery in New York.
Framing by Baobab, New York.
Collection of the Greene Naftali Gallery, New York ; private collection of Philip Aarons, New York.