Pictura Gallery

Elizabeth Claffey | Darkness and Nothing More

February 1, 2021

Claffey Elizabeth Exterior 1 2019

One of the things that scares me the most about having children is the guaranteed sleep deprivation. Sleep is a physical necessity, a cognitive and emotional necessity; it provides the opportunity to recharge and recuperate. It is a time for intimacy. It’s a time where one can float and sift through the subconscious parts of the mind in the privacy of a dream. I imagine not having access to this precious resource, and I become scared that losing ownership of the night will cause me to unravel during the day.

Elizabeth Claffey is intentionally looking into the darkness. She probes the complex intersection of needs and desires that a woman, a parent, a spouse navigates during the sleepless hours of early motherhood. To explore this, Claffey uses the language of the night. Her images activate that particular alertness that one can feel in the dark. Here, other senses become heightened- sound, touch and smell are all amplified. Though experienced acutely, these sensory signals can be confusingly disjointed without the anchor of sight to contextualize them. Claffey’s images are tactile in this distinct way- I feel the hot night air, the press of the sheets against damp skin, the hard wooden floor against the curled toe of a bare foot. She sets the viewer to drift through her images in a kind of dream state. Her family members, children, parent and partner, appear as apparitions; their presence disconcerting, yet fragile and precious.

Claffey’s images have the braveness of peering into the world of the subconscious. The nocturnal world can be experienced in wildly contradictory states; it can feel simultaneously mysterious and ominous, familiar and alien, intimate and lonely. As Claffey wanders through her home, I imagine what it would be like to cycle through all of these feelings.

This is not the simplistic version of motherhood and domestic bliss that women are quite often taught to expect, or encouraged to feel. It is far more complex. To me, this feels honest; it feels real.

- Mia

View more of Elizabeth’s work here

Claffey Elizabeth Interior 11 2019

Interior 11, 2019

Claffey Elizabeth Interior 22 2020

Interior 22, 2020

Claffey Elizabeth Interior 19 2019

Interior 19, 2019

Claffey Elizabeth Interior 29 2020

Interior 29, 2020

Claffey Elizabeth Interior 20 2020

Interior 20, 2020

Claffey Elizabeth Exterior 2 2019

Exterior 2, 2019

Claffey Elizabeth Interior 12 2019

Interior 12, 2019