Saturday, 2 November 2013

Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother

Projection: Encounters with My Runaway MotherProjection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother by Priscila Uppal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

While I was reading Projection, I thought about a course I took long ago. Some of the texts dealt with “mother-want”. At the time, we read these books as feminist texts where a woman who grows up without a mother has a better chance of becoming an independent, successful artist because without a mother there is no one there to teach her how to conform to a woman’s role.

Priscila Uppal has indeed grown up into a strong, independent artist after being abandoned by her mother when Priscila was eight years old. Despite the promises of feminist analysis, Uppal shows that “Motherlessness in my situation was far too closely equated with lovelessness.”

Projection made me think about the books I had read twenty years ago in a new light:

• “When mothers fail us, can we be ourselves?” -Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
• “Oh mama, why’d you put this hole in me?” -Heroine by Gail Scott

Priscila Uppal’s book is an angry look at the mother who betrayed her. She cannot discover what would have happened if her mother had stayed—you cannot go back and change the past. Instead, Uppal asks: “What does it mean to have a mother? Is it the necessary condition of humanity?”

The pain is carefully crafted by pairing each chapter with a movie that illuminates the conflict between this mother and daughter. Ultimately, Projection is an unapologetic personal examination of art, belonging, memory and home.

Interview with Priscila Uppal on 49th Shelf:

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