|Me and Patrick Mateer filming on the streets of Hull for Are You My Mum? © Hollie Rosa Warren|
Working with the the Random Acts team to put together the film Are You My Mum? was an opportunity to re-engage with the original project in the same way but also in a new way.
Returning to the location of my unknown mother's home is always a difficult emotional experience and I need to be motivated. I am consciously connecting to the loss and the rejection both at birth and again in my attempts to contact her in adulthood. There is a subconscious and not fully explored emotional reaction still, which is a combination of sadness, an existential loneliness and an unresolved anger that is accessed in returning to Hull.
Part of the opportunity presented by the film was to take a further risk in my direct engagement with the ladies of Hull, which has been (up until the commission) a distant connection expressed in the early photographs and posters. This distance as metaphor, reflects the literal paradox of being both near and far from my mother emotionally and physically. The film introduced a direct connection to women of my mother's age and because this was beyond the parameters of the original work, it felt like we were making a different project inspired by the original work to assist others to empathise with me; I had become the subject.
There is a genuine sense that any women of a certain age could be my mother so spending intimate time with the ladies on the street was a valuable opportunity afforded by working in this way whilst meeting the expectations of the Random Acts brand. My interest has always been to be challenged by limitation and continues to be an exploration of the possibilities within much tighter and restricted boundaries than film. I find a fluid timeline particularly limiting, I prefer to freeze a moment of time and present a subject abstracted in aspic to be studied but not fully understood. It is not possible to bring a project designed for one medium successfully into another medium and I feel the success was in identifying this early enough. I was happy to hand over the direction and editing and be an advisor and subject, so long as the project core aims and message were protected.
The film may steer away from the original work's idea of a universal shared sense of not knowing and this message has been lost in translation in prioritising a communication of my internal psychology but this is a sacrifice required to make it work and I am ok with it, we needed to make something work in a limited time and budget and it needed to be something more than a documentary about the original work. We have been successful in communicating to people that adoption is complex beyond the singular positive narrative; a double sided coin that is both love and rescue recognising the trauma of loss and abandonment.
Ultimately the broadcast, designed specifically to be launched on Mothers Day to maximise the potential for any visceral connection, offers an opportunity to deliver a meme reaching a wider audience than any of us could have imagined. Are You My Mum? as an original deeply personal project may have never been seen had it not been for Hull winning City of Culture 2017 and without this film an audience would not have the opportunity to understand what might motivate any of us to create work and bring it to the world.