Prelude by Madeleine Kukic

Issue 88

About the past and present, stopping and starting.

In the analog photo series Prelude, I explore how it is – and how it was – to be a child. When time is not yet important. When seeing is believing, and what we hear, smell, taste, and touch create lasting memories that we carry with us for the rest of our lives.

When my daughter was born eight years ago, my interest in photography vanished completely. For fifteen years – almost my entire adult life – I had been passionate about photography. It was the common thread that bound everything together, gave purpose to my day, put food on the table, and provided me with an identity. But, with the arrival of my first child, photography suddenly struck me as absurd.

A door swings open when you have children, and memories come flooding in. Many of these memories are beautiful, but there are also those that are less so, the ones you've repressed. You need to look at them, because that door can no longer be shut. Then you have to take care that the past doesn't cast a long shadow over the present and obliterate all of the beauty.

Why is it that I can still recall exactly how special it felt (crisp yet soft, but only crisp the first time) to walk barefoot over the gray-green moss that grew in the dunes? Why is this color so magical for me, and why does the sight of this moss give me such comfort and joy? Was it the muted silence of the dunes, the cool air, the clear light or the warm sand with dried rabbit droppings, the huge clouds that sped past through the blue above my head, the absence of time, or the feeling of safety I got from having my brothers just up ahead? It was probably a combination of all of these things.

Sometimes, by stopping what you're doing, you can create a degree of distance that will allow you to continue on in a much better way when you start again, as when painters look at their work in a mirror. Creating distance so you can get closer.

While my children are playing, I do what mothers do – I cut up some fruit for them, ask them how school was, clean up, sing a song, stroke their heads, and give encouragement.

And then I see it! The light that permeates the forms merges with the love I feel for the two small people entrusted to my care, and I'm overcome with the urge to take photographs, document, show, look! Just look at this, at that! This is what it's all about. This is what really matters!

I would like to thank Anna and Ilija for their patience and the flowers. 

Madeleine Kukic lives and works in the Netherlands.
To view more of Madeleine's work, please visit her website.