Photographic Commission: Family Rabenstein. Photo © Sarah Riviere

Twenty Seconds in the Music of a Mother-Child Relationship

The Rabenstein und Olivia Series

Sarah Rivière extends standard photographic techniques to make still images that hold an extended period of time in order to investigate the subtle rhythms of loving relationships as they develop.

In these images from 2001 she takes as her theme the developing relationship between a mother and her one-year old child (Rabenstein I – IV), while in a second set (Olivia I – II, Olivia R, Sarah & Olivia, Playing, Open Door) the artist gives an insight into the developing relationship between a one-year old child and her surroundings as she plays. By modifying her SLR analogue film camera to take photographs on analogue film over a duration of time, a series of twenty-second images are produced each of which holds the subtle rhythms of the interactive movements between mother, child and their surrounding world, as they tune in and out of each other’s melody.

Sarah Rivière is fascinated by the idea of catching the subtleties of developing relationships as they develop. Only over time, and with repeated and different levels of nuanced exchange, can a relationship exist. The repeating images in the series offer a repeating glance into the fine-tuned development of such exchanges.

Rabenstein I-IV

These four black-and-white photographs from 2001 offer a glimpse into the developing relationship between a mother and her one-year-old daughter. The artist reveals the otherwise hidden subtle rhythms of the interaction between the two, as sensitive moments of exchange which tune in and out of each other are picked up by her modified camera.

Each photograph covers a time span of a mere twenty seconds in the life-long developing relationship between a mother and her child. Time runs across the image from one side to the other – unstoppable in its flow. And so just twenty seconds of this tender relationship is recorded: a recording of a single bar in the ongoing music of their lives.



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Detail: „Olivia Series“, Photo © Sarah Riviere

Olivia I – II, Olivia R, Sarah & Olivia, Playing, Open Door

In this 2001 series a one-year-old girl's process of discovering her surrounding world are filmed onto still images by the artist using her modified analogue SLR camera. As the images of the child’s movements distil onto the film over time the music of her play and her interactions with the world are revealed.