M.A.M.A. Issue n.48 - Galit Criden

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 48th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the academic, the para-academic, the digital and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA #artandmotherhood

June 2021: Art by Galit Criden

Art by Galit Criden

Maternal as a Strategy What you’re going to do now?

The term ‘maternal’ has been pulsing through the academic and contemporary art worlds.  Contemporary art institutions seek to cultivate it; scholars write about it, and artists who become mothers are confronted by the concept.

A confession: it took me a long time to connect to the term maternal. Even after having my baby girl, the term still felt obsolete. The second time around, as a student at Goldsmiths Uni, I started to read about maternal organizations demanding equality and providing agency to those who mother the other. It became really fascinating when I began reading about how scholars, drag, trans and performance artists were trying to queer the maternal by liberating it by reframing language and traditional thinking about it. As they question the role of community in regard to care practices, open and share the act of mothering, rethink how the maternal can be at use in our society – I began to rethink my own values, production and artistic process, how I could collaborate and think about mother work differently. 

In a webinar hosted by Fred Moten and Stefano Harney held in July 2020, they respond to contemporary political and social disarray. As they note: “Differentiating ourselves through practice is not to identify or disidentify but to continue with the practice, asking questions that are supposed to produce movement and not paralysis.” Inspired by their conversation, the term maternal strategies bubbles up in my thinking. Could the maternal construct a discourse of change? Can it  be a strategy for others? And how we might use maternal strategies to reconstruct ourselves, our artistic spaces, words and our movement to politically vision a different kind of future?

In a constant dialogue with these ideas and questions, the different projects I choreograph allow people to go through a process of reflection-loss-re-imagination and yes sometimes it invites them to stay in boredom and uncertainty for a long long time. As the choreographer-the mama of these spatial performative attempts, I use maternal strategies to reorganize and to facilitate. I apply a maternal perspective (harmony, balance, sharing of space and resource), taking into consideration where the performance work is performed, the kind of cultural history it holds, the people who are performing and the kind of knowledge they hold. By facilitating a space that fundamentally recognizes differences in its rhythm, physical actions, social expectation, where there is no leader but a group of people sharing what they know, a space with no hierarchy between objects, bodies, sound, and audience – Is to my opinion a new kind of territory-form-sphere-strategy where alternative knowledge can evolve and new thoughts about people’s body, movement & freedom of choice can be learned.

Objects of Attention, ZAZ Performance Lewishan Arthouse, London. 2020.

‘Observation Room Project’ is a practice of slowing down, drawing its strength from the tension between the human subject and its surroundings. it takes into consideration the vital entanglements of one body with other kinds of bodies therefore is relational and maternal in its perspective. Slowness and durational are the two main methodologies through which I created ‘Observation Room’. in reaction to a rapid society, slowness is a way to counter fixed ideas of production, creative processes, individualism and many more. It enables “a listening”, perhaps even a “healing” space where the form is captured and new learning can happen.

Observation Room, Performance Confrence Jerusalem, Israel

In ‘Stardust’, I reflected on the working reality of artists & mother artists. By presenting this work at Christie’s [Auction House], Stardust showcased active mother artists as the work of art, while investigating the relationship between the viewer – the commodity of art – and the mother artist who produces it. In this performance, each mother artist was for sale. Next to her feet laid a description of who she is, what she does for a living.

Stardust, Christie's Auction House - Performing_ Rosalind Noctaor

In ‘Standing Still’, the relation between space, duration, and movement is intensely magnified, and the viewer is given the chance to enter another realm of consciousness and awareness. This event took place at the Wellcome Collection Museum. For one hour the performers invited the public to take part in standing still together – reflecting on what happens to the mind and body in a moment of stillness.

 Indeed, when maternal strategies are used and performed by artists they open a space to respond to the patriarchal system by offering different voices, movements and new images where an alternative reality can exist.

Although we cannot simply conserve the idea of maternal and maternal strategies only through observing a performance, a drag show, an image, or an exhibition, we can perhaps begin to accumulate, through deconstruction of words, participation in liminal spaces, sharing of invisible maternal experiences, acting with intention, recognizing M-others, maternal actions that mean so much to this society.

More about Galit:

Galit Criden is a choregrapher, mother, wanderer, and researcher.

She creates liminal spaces in transition as she moves between performative works- teaching dance within communities – researching slowness & maternal strategies within performance making as well as engaging in daily mother-work. She has experience in curating public art & culture programs.

Galit currently holds a BA in Visual Theater, BA in early education, MA in Contemporary Art Theory at the Department of Visual Culture, Goldsmiths University of London. Her dissertation focused on Maternal Strategies in Performance Making as a site for political and social change.

Based on theory and practice, Galit has initiated and facilitated over a dozen performative events which consist of performances, workshops, and intimate seminars to date, within the UK and internationally. such as ‘Stardust’, commissioned by BFAMI to perform at Christie’s Auction House In London, ‘Standing Still’ which was presented at Wellcome Collection Museum’, curated by Valerie Brown, Performatica Dance Festival (Puebla Mexico), The performance Conference (Jerusalem, Israel), Zaz Performance Art Festival (Tel Aviv, Israel) Group Exhibition, Lewisham Art House (London, England), Chisenhale Dance Space (London, England), Passion for Freedom Festival (London, England), Research residency  Performing arts forum (France), and her recent research project, ‘Songs of a Hostess’, an online series of performative webinars centering on body-knowledge in days of the pandemic, curated and facilitated with Laura Kirshenbaum, and ‘Time Lab’ research project, co-founded with Eynav Rosolio.


M.A.M.A. Issue n.47 - Henny Burnett and Sarah Freligh

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 46th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the academic, the para-academic, the digital and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA #artandmotherhood

June 2021: Art by Henny Burnett - words by Sarah Freligh

Art by Henny Burnett

365 Days of Plastic (2020-2021)

I make objects that respond to the domestic and the everyday. In 365 Days of plastic I used multiples of cast single use plastic food packaging to form a large scale installation. The making of the work involved the endless repetitive task of casting over 800 pieces. Repetitive tasks often feature in my work and reference those daily domestic chores we all do and which seemed to dominate life even more under lockdown. In our household we separate our recycling and I could see that the amount of single use plastic was forever increasing during lockdown.

I was horrified by the quantity, but also became fascinated by the patterns and textures. As a sculptor I could see the potential of using them as moulds. I documented the weekly quantity of plastic used in my household during 2020. In the final installation there are 760 individual cast pieces, which represents an average of 2 per day from a household that fluctuated between 2 and 4 people during 2020.

I see 365 Days of Plastic simultaneously as both beautiful, and horrific. It plays with an ambiguity of outcome and interpretation. It could be domestic or industrial, useful or useless. Or both beautiful and ugly. The different scales and textures formed through casting create a panoramic view of containers. The positive and negative spaces play equal importance.

The making of the work coincided with the pandemic, so it functions for me as a marker of time, and of the containment itself. It also asks questions about our disposable society, consumerism and our dependency on plastics. Britain is the worst consumer in Europe of single use plastics.

365 Days of Plastic was one of twenty pieces shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2021 and is currently showing at York Art Gallery until 5th September 2021.

More about Henny:

Henny Burnett is a mixed media artist who lives and works in Bristol and London. She attended Byam Shaw and Edinburgh Colleges of Art. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, undertaking residencies in Italy and Britain. She has won awards from Juliet Gomperts Trust, The British council, ACE and travel grants to Canada and USA. Recently a finalist for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2021 and awarded a commission for new work by Procreate Project funded by Arts Council England.

Words by Sarah Freligh 

Snow Baby

Her girl is disappearing, erased daily by the wan heat of a January sun. Her cold only child, the daughter she palmed into life out of snow and hope after the others were wrung out of her, little white dishrags. Afterward, the white space where she’d been stranded. Every day a blizzard in her brain, a windowless room until she flexed her fingers and built her girl. Please come inside, her husband begs her nightly. But no, not yet. Here is a pink hat, daughter. Can you see how I’m trying to save you?

More about Sarah:

Sarah Freligh is the author of Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Sun Magazine, SmokeLong Quarterly, Cincinnati Review and in the anthology New Microfiction: Exceptionally Short Stories (W.W. Norton, 2018). She was the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2009.From MER 17 (2019). Marjorie Tesser, Editor-in-Chief.


M.A.M.A. Issue n.46 - Dr Christina Kolaiti and Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 46th edition of this scholarly discourse. Literature intersects with art to explore the wonder and the challenges of motherhood. Using words and art to connect new pathways between the academic, the para-academic, the digital and the real, as well as the everyday: wherever you live, work and play, the Art of Motherhood is made manifest. #JoinMAMA #artandmotherhood

May 2021: Art and words by Dr Christina Kolaiti, Poetry by Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

Art by Christina Kolaiti

‘Three Degrees of Separation’

This body of research challenges the conflicting landscape of early motherhood, as this is conveyed through social prescriptions, which interpret the body as a metaphor for self-worth and aim at controlling the mother-infant physicality. This norm is in fact experienced through three progressive stages of physical and emotional separation between mother and infant, opposing the fundamental principles of healthy attachment i and can result in breastfeeding grief, separation anxiety and trauma.

Early weaning, the cot-centred sleep training culture and the introduction of the infant to day care are three progressive stages of physical separation. Such conventions discourage “interdependence with high parental contact” ii and define three modes of cry it out iii  experienced mutually by the infant and also, the mother. This body of research holds an opposing view and strives towards a more natural approach to the mother-infant relationship through maximised physical closeness in both daytime and night-time parenting practices.

Three Degrees of Separation Installation by Christina Kolaiti at SelfScapes 2021, Dalby Forest

The installation presented at Dalby Forest during SelfScapes 2021 v reveals the social construct of separateness as a misleading connotation of independence, which is exposed by the disturbing melancholy of the aloneness of the cherished handmade teddy bear.  

If unattended long enough, babies stop crying because “they are simply giving up on the hope that comfort will come.” vi Vulnerable to the wilderness of the forest, the solitary presence of the delicate milk-coloured teddy bear, signified an unexpected encounter for the walkers. Yet, the bear is not alone.

This sighting (the infant-mother teddy bear) provoked an affectionate response from people who began to share images of keeping the bear company and temporarily making it part of their family. It was as if this natural encounter with separateness “reawakened a deeply instinctive way” of relating, or in other words parenting ” […] as nature intended: a true source of contact, security and warmth […].” vii

The walker’s portraits show an unplanned demonstration that secure attachment is as much nurtured in the physiological infant-mother closeness, as are the social aspects of this relationship. viii Likewise, this substantiates that co-nurturing interdependence is as much a responsibility of the prime caregiver as it is epitomised by communal affairs, representing a “lasting psychological connectedness between human beings.” ix By embracing our innate instincts, we can collectively re-instate the balance between intuition and convention.

“It takes a village to raise a child.” x

Notes:

i Bowlby, J. (1969) Attachment. Attachment and loss: Vol. 1. Loss. New York: Basic Books.

ii McKenna, J. J. (1996) ‘Babies Need Their Mothers Beside Them’, The Natural Child Project. Available at https://www.naturalchild.org/articles/james_mckenna/babies_need.html

iii Burbridge, A. (2016) ‘Letting babies cry-the facts behind the scenes’, La Leche League GB. Available at: laleche.org.uk.

v SelfScapes is an arts initiative, which explores the relationship between the self and the natural environment. Dalby Forest, March-June 2021. The project is supported by The Arts Council England and Forestry England.

vi Burbridge, A. [Ibid.]

vii Maté, D. G., Neufeld, G., (2019). Hold on to your kids: Why parents need to matter more than peers. United Kingdom: Ebury Publishing.

viii McKenna, J.J. [Ibid.]

ix (Bowlby,1969:94).

x  African proverb, which proposes parenting as a communal responsibility.

More about Christina:

Dr Christina Kolaiti is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at York St John University. She is a visual artist whose research has been based on interdisciplinary collaborations with healthcare institutions. For over a decade Kolaiti’s research activity has positioned the narrative properties of fine art photography within a diverse range of scientific and pedagogical contexts.

Her research profile includes exhibitions set within various hospital sites (for example, The Northern Surgery Skills Institute at Hexham General Hospital and The Royal College of Physicians in London). She has received research awards by The Arts and Humanities Research Council, The Arts Council England, York St John University and most notably, The Combined Royal Photographic Society and Royal Medical Colleges Medal in 2011, ‘[…] for an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the art and science of photography.’ (rps.org) 

Words by Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

Home Isolation, Day 42

I open my son’s door.

It smells of boy funk, dog, and morning breath.

When I ask: Do you need any help?

I mean tornados, fractions, conjugations but I also mean interrogations of the gentler kind:

How are you doing? What do you miss? How can I substitute for your losses?

A dirty sock, whirring

laptop, abandoned

saxophone case-less, exposed,

today put nothing away.

More about Melisa:

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, is the author of Imperfect Tense (poems), and three scholarly books in education. Winner of NEA Big Read Grants, the Beckman award for Professors Who Inspire, and a Fulbright for nine-month study of adult Spanish language acquisition in Oaxaca Mexico, she’s served for over ten years as poetry editor for Anthropology & Humanism, judging the ethnographic poetry competition. She blogs at http:// teachersactup.com