Toni Pepe: The Second Moment
Back in September, I met Toni Pepe at Filter Photo Festival in Chicago when we shared our portfolios with each other in the hotel lobby in between our portfolio reviews. It is always a pleasure to see an artist’s work in person the first time; the experience is much more intimate. The images shown here include two different installments from Toni’s beautiful series about motherhood, The Second Moment. One of the reasons I enjoy her work so much is that the aesthetic evokes thoughts of master painters from the Baroque period.
Toni Pepe currently teaches photography at Boston University. Her photographs and installation work address the construction of identity and the performativity of narrative, gender, and memory. Toni is most interested in utilizing photography as a forum for interdisciplinary expiration–she often employs literature, neuroscience, and cinema as source materials for her work. She has exhibited her images throughout the United States and abroad. Toni’s work has been displayed in solo exhibitions at the University of Notre Dame and the Center for Photography Woodstock. In additions, Toni was named a 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship Program finalist and is currently in the Danforth Museum’s collection as well as many private collections.
I began the series The Second Moment shortly after giving birth to my son. While the impetus for this work derives from my personal experience as a new mother, the images are also embroiled in the wider myth and fantasy of motherhood itself. Through a highly stylized and narrative approach, the subjects negotiate the shifting boundaries between mother and child.
The figures pictured are in direct dialogue with Baroque and Mannerist paintings of women and children. My work engages with the deeply embedded symbolism of these styles to call attention to the lingering narratives of the past and the impact they have on our current perceptions of the body, motherhood, and mortality.
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