With this strong statement, photographer Ala Wesołowska introduces us to her new photo series, Polish Mother, made in collaboration with Charlotte Tomaszweska. After giving birth to her son ten years ago, the artist has explored motherhood and everything it entails through her work. In her culture, she explains, the term ‘Polish mother’ is “almost stuck in our tissues, it is absorbed as if by osmosis.” So, through her own experiences and those of several other mothers, she set on to explore this concept further, especially in the past years, which has seen the country passing several restricting laws regarding women’s rights like abortion. “This special series resulted from reflection on what is currently happening in the Polish state, how legal changes limit our freedom in a blatant and unacceptable way,” the artist further explains.
In these photos, Ala portrays women from all walks of life, each exploring motherhood in their own way. However, they all come to represent strong pillars in Polish society, figures that the photographer thinks are vital: “Mothers who took part in the series are a symbol of courage and independence for me. In everyday life, they simply love and support their families, and the way they live and the choices they make testify to their disagreement with the prevailing legal, thought or ideological restrictions,” she tells us.
Reflecting more on motherhood and how, still today, many women around the world feel forced to give up on their careers, ambitions, and dreams due to systematic issues, Ala says: “A kind of sacrifice is inherent in being a mother. Commitment to whatever you do requires time, energy, attention. In the case of motherhood, you are in a constant process of changes, new challenges, moments where you learn your boundaries, protect them. But also, perhaps, for the first time, you experience how much your boundaries are violated. Being a mother is a lifelong process. I think this type of experience is known to every mother, regardless of longitude or latitude.”