Performance and the Maternal

Performance and the Maternal is a collaborative project born of Lena Šimić and my desire to explore how the maternal functions in, and beyond, representation in the particular disciplines of performance and live art.  As Mike Pearson notes, ‘performance’ is an inclusive term that can bring together a variety of practices from across forms (Pearson, 2010, p.1).  I use the term ‘performance’ here to signify artistic work that focuses on live bodies making real actions intended for consideration by an audience. It seems that performance offers a unique space to explore the maternal due to its durational, live and relational elements: 

  • Performance is a durational phenomena: it is lived in real time and therefore using a performance studies perspective can help us to explore the time-based nature of the maternal. 
  • Performance is located in our bodies: the lived, embodied nature of performance parallels the lived, embodied experience of the maternal. 
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Conceiving Histories – a project exploring the history of pre-pregnancy.

If you begin typing ‘Am I …’ into a google search box, ‘Am I pregnant?’ is the first offered suggestion, just ahead of ‘Am I registered to vote?’ – a vestige from the Brexit referendum, ‘Am I depressed?’ and ‘Am I insured?’. The internet is externalising and collectivising something that for our mothers’ generation had been private, internal: the ambiguity of early pregnancy. Whether hoping for or fearing pregnancy, the wait to find out can be hard: a time of fantasy and projection, of bitter anxiety or ardent longing. These days the time before a pregnancy test will give a sure result is referred to as the ‘two week wait’. In practice, because false negatives are likely in the early stages of pregnancy, it often takes a little longer than that for a not-pregnant woman to accept a negative result: more like two and a half to three weeks. What Read more...

Meet the Mother House: a creative space for mothers artists

13312776_1603401659951498_3762428790709229095_nMother House is a pilot initiative from Procreate Project in partnership with Desperate Artwives. It is a dedicated creative space for London-based artists who are mothers with a co-produced and flexible childcare model.
An experimental month into the intersection between the roles of mother and artist, observing the importance of their impact on private lives and within society: the Mother House will provide a familiar context to share and reveal both the challenges and privileges of being a mother. The space will provide the freedom to work independently or alongside your children, and it will provide opportunities to work in collaboration with other artists to create a supportive and inspiring network. The Mother House idea is born in response to the urge of “making” within the life-changing experience of motherhood, offering a collaborative yet intimate space to curate your practice while ensuring your journey into motherhood is fed in a Read more...

The egg, the womb, the head and the moon exhibition review- by Rebecca Baillie

The strength of the recently concluded exhibition in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire – the egg, the womb, the  head and the moon – was in its inclusivity and openness. To create a structure and then to renounce control  is difficult; difficult when parenting, difficult when curating and difficult to do as an artist. Helen Sargeant,  however, manages to do this quite effortlessly as she allows the experience of maternity to be contradictory and ambiguous through her sensitive, perhaps one could even say ‘maternal’, curation of this exhibition. Nestled in the heart of picturesque English country landscape and born of the 42 week open access blog (the length of a pregnancy) also called ‘the egg, the womb, the head and the moon’, the exhibition feels protected and gentle, even on the approach. Upon entering the gallery space – situated in a beautiful disused old Mill building – the tone of community Read more...

Artists who Mother

ROSEGIBBSPHOTOBy Rose Gibbs

According to Sheryl Sandberg, the woman responsible for turning around the fortune of Facebook (1), ‘the number one impediment to women succeeding in the work force is now in the home. Most people assume that women are responsible for households and child care. The majority of heterosexual couples operate on that basis’ (2). Sampson Lee Blair (3), professor at the University of Buffalo, studies the division of labor in families and notes that with families where the woman has a job and a man doesn’t, where one might anticipate a reversal of roles, ‘even then you find the woman doing the majority of the housework’ (4). For childcare the ratio is closer to 5 to 1, no matter who earns the money for the family. Business and institutions are set up without regard for the exigency of parenting an infant, and clearly women take the strain.

There Read more...

Home Truths: Photography and Motherhood The Photographers’ Gallery and The Foundling Museum, London, UK, 10 October 2013 – 5 January 2014

RebeccaBaillie-Mountain WomanBy Rebecca Baillie

In the same way that the parent and child are distinct and separate whilst remaining undeniably connected, so too are the parallel shows curated by Susan Bright on photography and motherhood at The Photographers’ Gallery and The Foundling Museum. Although part of the same story, the atmosphere of the two exhibitions is completely contradictory. As you enter the Foundling Museum, you are immediately greeted by loss. Originally a home for abandoned children, perhaps sadness and longing has somehow seeped into the walls. However it has happened, loss overwhelms as you enter the museum; it then follows behind as you walk down a grand staircase and arrive inside the hidden basement space, home, for the time being, to the work of Miyako Ishiuchi, Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Ann Fessler and Tierney Gearon.

This work, exhibited together, left me somewhat speechless, breathless, and wanting to get away. As the eye Read more...

Mindy Stricke launches ‘Landing Gear’ as part of ‘Greetings from Motherland’

[image url=”http://mamsie.org/mamsieblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/maria_c_mendonca-Mindy-Stricke-launches-‘Landing-Gear’-as-part-of-‘Greetings-from-Motherland’1.jpg” alignment=”left” margin_left=”2″ margin_right=”2″ margin_top=”2″ margin_bottom=”2″ width=”100″ height=”110″] By Maria Collier Mendonça

“Welcome to Motherland! You may have recently washed up on its shores, or have been living here for a while and already acclimated, the blur of the early years of motherhood behind you. Or maybe you don’t live here, but you have a relationship to this place as a partner, child, or friend”. Mindy Stricke, ‘Greetings from Motherland’.

Originally from New York and settled in Toronto (Ontario, Canada), Mindy Stricke is a photographer and multi-disciplinary installation artist, whose work challenges boundaries between artists and non-artists; artists and audience; process and product. Her work has been exhibited throughout North America and also in international publications such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, among others. I had the opportunity to listen to Mindy’s presentation “Welcome to Motherland: Artists Collaborating with Mothers to Create New Representations of Motherhood” Read more...