"Shot on the eve of the birth of McCallum and Tarry’s son, Otis, this video explores the anxious anticipation of the lifelong connections and separations that occur between a mother and her child. This minimalist work—Tarry appears clad in simple, white jersey undergarments and placed against a black background—is a riveting performance of maternal emotions enacted in the absence of filial response. As the artist’s hands intermittently caress her own swollen abdomen and gesticulate toward her otherwise invisible child, her body and soul prepare for birth, an event that will mark the beginning of her son’s life and the end of their physical attachment. The monologue of the artist ranges across an emotional expanse as she embarks on a one-way conversation with her yet unborn child, articulating what she imagines to be the nature of their relation then and over time. “I will always be your mother.” The lines spoken by Tarry throughout this short but potent piece echo trite expressions uttered by frustrated and angry parents whose disappointment in their children’s failure to fulfill their fathers’ and mothers’ expectations for them fuels what sound like abusive statements, although they are sentiments uttered from a source of maternal affection. In this sense, Otis provides Tarry with the opportunity to exorcise such sentiments just before the first violent experience that she will soon share with her son as they separate: birth. Thus, while Otis represents Tarry’s prenatal performance in advance of Otis’ arrival, this recital likewise stands as a poetic meditation on motherhood more generally, foregrounding the fear and anger, excitement and joy, that inform the tenderness and aggression that permeate all bonds between mothers and their children."


"Otis." In Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry, edited by Jennie Hirsh, 33.  Baltimore, MD: Maryland Institute College of Art, 2010. 

 ©Exhibition Development Seminar 2009-2010, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA: Baltimore, 2010) 


To view or download the entire exhibition catalogue from Bearing Witness: Work by Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry with descriptions of each work as well as a critical essay, please visit the Featured page.