And then I’m reading Barbara Brownie and Danny Graydon’s The Superhero Costume: Identity and Disguise in Fact and Fiction and I run across Ana Álvarez-Errecalde’s beautiful work Symbiosis and it feels like my heart stops for a second. My breath catches.
And I go track down this interview with her, and save it for later, knowing it’s going in the February issue of Genetrix:
Symbiosis (The Four Seasons, 2013-2014) talks about relationships that nourish each other both physically and psychologically. It challenges the idea of a negated mother who also negates her body and her presence to her children, so they will all ultimately conform to our unattended, unloved, and unnourished society. It is not about being a “supermom.” It is about two complete beings that strengthen each other by the relationship they establish. That is where the mutual empowerment resides.
But also then I go back to Brownie & Graydon and flipping through I realize that Álvarez-Errecalde’s photograph is in a section called “Parent power,” with quotes like these:
As the death of family provoked the adoption of heroic identities in Batman and Spider-Man, new parents find themselves transformed by the birth of a child. (p. 130-131)
It is just as impossible to define any parent without acknowledging their parenthood, as it is to define Bruce Wayne without acknowledging Batman. (p. 131)
Parenthood, like crime-fighting, is labor-intensive, exhausting and emotionally draining… Superhero imagery allows parents to express the tremendous strength that is required in parenthood, along with the new sets of values that emerge with their new identity. (p. 131)
And this is all serendipitously making me feel immensely seen and I’m on the verge of tears.