63 Objects Taken From My Son's Mouth
Pittsburgh, USA: Self-published, 2014
66 pp., 5.75 x 4.25 x 0.25", softcover
Edition of 250 signed and numbered copies
A bulldog clip, a bottle cap, bus tickets, a spool of thread, an acorn, pebbles, rocks, and coins in three different currencies. These are a sampling of the sixty-three objects the artist fished out of the mouth of her infant son.
First exhibited at the at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, in 2013 (see below), the book features size-as photographs by Tom Little of the potentially lethal rescued items, all removed from her son Otto's mouth when he was between the ages of of eight and fifteen months. “The collection indirectly documents those months of our lives,” Clayton says.
“We carried on until he stopped putting things in his mouth, or when I stopped being so terrified of it,” she told the Telegraph.
The work was produced in residency, self-directed and self-initiated. In her home, while raising her first child. “It still seems to be a commonly held belief that being an engaged mother and serious artist are mutually exclusive endeavours,” she wrote. “I don’t believe or want to perpetrate this.”
So Clayton created a seven-and-a-half month-long "Residency in Motherhood" after struggling to produce work while suffering a “lack of resources, anxiety and overwhelming tiredness”.
The 227-day stint resulted in a number of works, including Maternity Leave (the sounds from her baby monitor broadcast live into the Carnegie Museum), Dangerous Objects Made Safer, and the video work The Distance I Can Be From My Son. All speak to the unfathomable fear and responsibility a mother feels about the vulnerability of her offspring.
63 Objects Taken From My Son's Mouth is available from the artist, here, for $35.00 US, or from Printed Matter, here.