These photos by Dave Moser represent the beginning of his series “Housewife”. In full disclosure, I must tell you that Dave is my brother in law and that I, with my many contacts as a former housewife, am recruiting subjects for this project.
The three subjects featured here are 1) Nina – a friend I met on a plane twenty + years ago; 2) Laura – a friend who hired me for my first job when I returned home to Philadelphia from San Francisco as a newlywed; and 3) Brenda – a colleague who is a fellow member of MamaCita, a Mother’s Cooperative in the Arts.
What defines a housewife? In Dave’s verbal definition, it is a spouse who works less than 40 hours a week outside the home, is married or separated (though not yet divorced), is raising a family and is either straight or gay. His visual definition as revealed by his photos, define housewife as a solitary heroine in her own domestic drama.
The housewives represented in his photographs are heroic figures. Their bodies are sculpted with chiseled features and well-defined muscles, glistening calves, taut tendons and strong jawlines. Wearing flimsy, flowing tunics, they are standing, seated or swinging, defiant in their home environs. These are not the ho-hum homes of the typical suburban housewife: (well, actually they are), but by manipulating light and color, Dave invents a dramatic backdrop for these women to inhabit. He is the director, looking through their closets, choosing their clothes, setting the stage, telling them where to stand, how to sit, where to look. In their real lives, these are fierce women, and in these photos their stance and their surroundings reinforce this truth.
Are these women patient Penelope waiting for Odysseus to return from his 10 year journey at sea? Or are these women Brave Ulysses, setting the course, battling foes, staking their ground?
“Of all that breathes and crawls across the earth,
our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man (and nothing stronger than a woman!)
So long as the gods grant him power, spring in his knees,
he thinks he will never suffer affliction down the years.
But then, when the happy gods bring on the long hard times,
bear them he must, against his will, and steel his heart.
Our lives, our mood and mind as we pass across the earth,
turn as the days turn . . .” Homer
Nina, Laura and Brenda represent women of a certain age. No longer girls, they are women on the verge of the dirty “M” word. None of these women are models and all had to face their fears of posing in front of a stranger and his two assistants and then seeing the truth in the resultant photographs.
It is hard to look at oneself in photos. When I look at these photos, I see three beautiful women. Nina saw them and went to bed for a week she was so depressed by how tired and stressed-out she thought she looked. The first question Laura asked me when I told her I had seen them was, “Do I look old?” Why do women think this way? It is the opposite of the truth.
Dave’s photos reveal three strong, fearless faces that look straight-on and unabashed at the camera and not three feeble women waiting to disappear in the eyes of society and men as they mature into middle age.
“Our lives, our mood and mind as we pass across the earth,
turn as the days turn . . .”
My turn to pose comes in a couple weeks. It will not be the first time I’ve posed for Dave. The first series of photos he took of me range from stunning to deranged. (Think about the mug shots of Nick Nolte and then imagine, my face transposed on his.) I’m sure I will be nervous and afraid; unlike his subjects so far, I’ve agreed to pose nude. Of all the things I’ve come to realize as I’ve grown older is the thrill of facing my fears. I am more afraid of letting fear prevent me from doing something than I am of whatever it is that makes me afraid. So what if I have to look at my naked body – see my droopy breasts, the cellulite on my thighs, the scar on my lower abdomen from my c-section…? (Though it is highly unlikely that I would let Dave’s camera close enough to my graying beav to capture that!) I’ve written my intention here – I am going to do it and now I can’t back out!
A preview of Dave’s Housewife Series will be on display at The Pennsylvania Trust Company (5 Radnor Corporate Center, 100 Matsonford Road, #450, Radnor) with an opening reception on Wednesday, May 3rd from 5 – 7:30 pm. Please rsvp Kim Patterson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 610-975-4327, if you plan on attending the opening reception. On display until May 6th. For more information, please email Dave at email@example.com.