Skip to main content

Maria, a love story

  • My first encounter with Zelie. The ultrasound when I learned that I was pregnant. I had not planned the pregnancy but I wonder if deep down I really had wanted it as I did have that desire to be a mother, while maybe not in this way. But, I felt the need to call it an “accident” for fear of what people would think, “You don’t have a stable situation” they would say “This will end your career”…But that wasn’t what happened.

  • The first photo of Zelie and me by Anna Bosch, my soul sister. 

  • Little by little, building this project, I look for the words to explain to Zelie her story. It begins with the first encounter with her father Ahmed. A love story that seems anchored in a time, a space, in 2016, in Beirut, there where she could only breathe. I still struggle to string the words together, perhaps I haven’t assimilated my own story. I wonder when Zelie will need to know hers. I still need time. 

  • By playing she is inspired by what she experiences close to me and what she feels to stage her perception of things. Is-it a game essential to her awakening and her psychological balance? Are we educated for procreation and motherhood?

  • 48 Tanger Street, Barcelona.

    Maria was born in this very building, on this same floor, on February 13,1944. Zelie is growing up in the apartment in front of hers. Every morning Zelie knocks on Maria’s door, shouting her name. If Maria doesn’t answer in time, Zelie falls apart on the landing.

  • Hello, I’m a granny and I’m going to tell you a bit about my happiness. I live alone and I have a neighbour who has a 2 year old daughter and I always see her, kiss her, we play a lot and we sing and play more and more. Nobody knows how happy I am.  In the morning her mother takes her to the nursery and she is very happy. She knocks on my door, kisses me and calls me by my name. Maria. She is very intelligent. She speaks French, Spanish and Catalan. She’s a gem.  At my age, you can’t imagine how happy I am with her calls. We played again. I won’t say more because it would take all afternoon to explain our little things. 

    That’s all, 

    Maria Llovera

  • . Zelie’s second birthday at Maria’s home on October 26, 2019.

    . The “annual” Whatsapp with Ahmed, Zelie’s father, on November 2, 2019. The letter I’ve written for Zelie to open when she’s 7 and in which I explain the enigma of her date of birth. I broke up with Ahmed when I was 8 months pregnant. The pressure from his Egyptian Muslim family was too much for me and our relationship. The cultural differences, the fears and the threats…it was over.

  • Zelie’s birth dress offered by Ahmed’s mother. The main cause of my breakup with Ahmed was my refusal to marry him imposed by his family.

  • In this envelope, Maria’s sincerity towards her pregnancy before the wedding.

  • As if a metaphor to the disappearance of Maria’s husband and a woman who turns to her son. «It was always the three of us until February 12, 2014, when «Tichou» decided to take another road forever, leaving my son and I behind, the same way he always did. The end.»

  • Maria’s husband sent her this letter when he was in the army in 1963.

    Maria looks calmly towards the outside. Zelie has allowed her to open up again to the world.

  • I took 5 nature photographs for Maria and asked her to choose one that reflects the relationship she has with her son. “Xavi always goes his own way, but he does call me every day at 9 o’clock at night. I think it’s a question of character.

  • Maria has left Zelie some advice from her experience raising her son Xavi. A reflection of her loneliness.

    1. Study hard
    2. Live with your family
    3. Be good to the world
    4. Do what you want
  • Maria’s teleassistance necklace for the elderly people living alone. Maria explains First Aid assistance responded 4 different times to calls from Zeile who hit the button by mistake, playing with the necklace. Finally Maria told them she didn’t need the necklace anymore because she had Zelie!

  • Detachable heart.

    The day we returned “home” to France to start a new stage in September 2020, Maria gave Zelie this little pyramid and kept a piece of it.

    “When I feel lonely and sad, there is another story I need to remember. That of a mother and her child who became my neighbors. She was a single mother and it changed my life. Now I’m happy as I receive all the love in the world.” Maria. 

  • Maria, look around you, everything changes and I’m here to ask you the same question. “Am I a good mother? or not. And then there are the others around us, those who always have a little word to say, always for our good. “I do as i can,” I almost force myself to tell them. But in the end, Maria, I do what I want. Just, they do not know it.

  • My second birthday, 16 December 1983, in Pau. Motherhood allowed me to name, to understand the complex relations which are woven within families but also my own interrogations. Finally, this intimate notebook brings me closer to my own mother.

2019 / 2020, Barcelona


Revue 6Mois Nº24

Maria, a love story

“Maria, a Love Story” define the impact the birth of my daughter Zelie, now 4 years, has had on the life of my neighbour Maria, a 76 year old widow. Reciprocally, this story also translates Maria’s impact, her presence on ours.

Adapting to the new social context of the last decades, the classic idea of “Family” as an institution is being modi- ed. The typical family made up of a mother and a father with various children and an extended, cross generatio- nal family, is being displaced. In today’s industrialized societies there is an increasing number of single-parent families with no extended family living close by, which is my case. Like many other young, single, parents, I depend on my friends and neighbours for support. An “open door” policy allows for new and different family frameworks to form which adapt directly to need and circumstance. With this body of work, I explore one such relationship. Taking into account also the traditional and religious connotation of the name of Maria – which is that of my neighbor – and my own questions and secrecy around the theme of motherhood. An intergenerational story is recreated from the use of archive photos and those of the present where different mother tongues are articulated in unison to redefine the notion of motherhood from our own experiences.

This love story was born from the need to understand and position myself in a confusing vital moment. This project is carried out by several hands, those of Zelie, Maria, my friends who have helped me in every sense of the word to overcome this streak.