M.A.M.A. Issue n.38: Casey Jenkins and Amy Watkins

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 38th edition of this scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic 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 2019: Art by Casey Jenkins words by 

Art by Casey Jenkins – sMother 

sMother psychological-endurance artwork. Gendered assumptions, judgments and advice – whether meant to protect or to control – bind and confine those perceived to be ‘women of child bearing age’, paralysing us with fear and shame. Our identities are subdued and mummified in forced acquiescence by community expectations that preserve absurd gender roles.

At nearly 38yo and after two miscarriages in the previous year, Casey performed sMother, the final in a trilogy of performances exploring the restrictive nature of gendered expectations on those perceived to be ‘women of child-bearing age’.

Casey knitted daily over the course of a week with yarn drawn from their vagina, linking two common vut somewhat conflicting indicators of femininity; the vulva associated with women’s sexuality and reproduction, and knitting associated with elderly asexual women. As Casey knitted, audience members were invited to activate a four channel, 28 track soundscape of advice and commentary regarding ‘women of child-bearing age’, reflecting the judgments of diverse commentators from lounge-room analysts to Donald Trump. By activating the sound montages, the audience was complicit in mirroring and perpetuating the cacophony of gendered judgments that strengthen patriarchal control.

Casey absorbed the relentless barrage while creating a knitted length that grew over the course of days into a rope that bound and distorted their body – travelling from the popular ‘serene pregnant woman’ fable to something more representative of the lived experience of those perceived to be ‘women of child bearing age’, involving discomfort, fear, frustration and claustrophobia. Each stitch may be seen as a mark of acquescence to the absurdity of gender expectations – an acquiescence that at first may comfort and shield, but soon distorts, binds and restricts.

More about Casey

Casey Jenkins (b. 1979, Melbourne, Australia) is currently a Master of Contemporary Art student at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Jenkins is an installation and durational/community-engagement performance artist. Combining tactility with technology, craft with performance, her work ranges from minimalist solo durational performances to pieces that deliberately toy with (and aim to redefine) power structures via street art and experimental group performance. Recent works have been shown at the Venice International Performance Art Week,  London Science Gallery, Mother Art Prize group show at Mimosa House London, and SomoS Art House, Berlin.

Words by Amy Watkins – ‘Learning the hard Way’

I feel for the door-to-door evangelists,

the Jehovah’s Witnesses, women in long skirts

and blue-gray sweaters, and the pairs

of handsome, clean-cut Mormon boys,

one always more shy than the other, holding

a stack of books and a bicycle helmet

under one arm. They are eager and

lovely, and even I don’t invite them in.

My mother did when I was a child, because

she too felt called to witness. The seventh-day.

The second coming. Everything that made us

strange. She took out her Bible, its leather cover

worn as a pair of work gloves, and listened

to them expound their faith in the kind of earnest voices

movie actors reserve for speeches like, Please believe

me: an asteroid is on a collision course

with Earth. Her response was apologetic,

almost embarrassed; for every verse they quoted,

she knew two. I recognized the doubt soaking in,

the frustration. Still, they squared their shoulders.

No one wants to fall for the smooth sales pitch,

the telemarketer’s call, the good news of the pamphlet

the glassy-eyed woman’s hand. Whatever truth

there is, we want to find it for ourselves

like the ultimate rummage sale bargain.

Believe me, you can’t tell us anything.

More about Amy Watkins

Amy Watkins is the author of the chapbooks Milk & Water, Lucky, and Wolf Daughter (coming soon from Sundress Publications). She lives in Orlando with her husband and daughter and a mean-spirited ginger cat. Find her online at RedLionSq.com or @amykwatkins.


M.A.M.A. Issue n.37: Tereza Buskova and Caitlin Grace McDonnell

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 37th edition of this scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic 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 2019: Art by Tereza Buskova words by Caitlin Grace McDonnell

Art by Tereza Buskova – ‘Clipping the Church’

In many cultures, even today, new mothers and their infants are subject to a period of physical seclusion or confinement from the rest of the world. During this time, the support of relatives and the local community plays a vital role in sustaining the family by caring for the older children, providing food and completing chores typically carried out by the mother herself. It is hard to imagine now that things were not so different for the generation of our own great-grandmothers.

No longer restricted by this custom, women today enjoy the benefits of improved healthcare, education and childcare options, which grant them greater freedom than ever before. Yet the stigma and judgement that come with pregnancy and early motherhood linger, whereas support of the local community has all but disappeared over time. Today’s society too often adopts a patronising, utilitarian attitude which blinds it to the particular needs of parents and families. As a consequence, many new mothers experience feelings of loneliness and isolation from their social networks, unknown to them before. Some feel actively ostracised and judged when they should be encouraged and cherished.

 

Clipping the Church is a project based on an old English tradition in which parishioners ‘clip’ their local place of worship with hands and bodies and sing songs of a celebratory nature. The overarching aspect of this custom is inclusiveness and Buskova married it with the representation of motherhood expressed by the act of baking and sharing baked goods with family, friends and anonymous members of the community.

Dressed in traditional Czech outfits, ornate with sensuous red ribbons and elaborate baked accessories, two women lead a procession via Erdington’s High Street. Their white skirts are decorated with flowery patterns and bunched around their hips, emphasising the connection with nature and its fertility.  The work subtly harks back to the history of Erdington, which remained a rural area until recent times. Accompanied by two young girls and followed by a simple wooden frame made of celestial crust (sugary pastries based on an old Czech recipe) topped by a small figurine of Virgin Mary and carried on men’s shoulders, the procession was joined by a multinational crowd, old and young. All precincts vanished for the duration of the performance and the lively chatting was underscored by accompanying cello music performed by Bela Emerson, resulting in a festive atmosphere that resonated within the surroundings.

One of the most moving and symbolically saturated moments of the procession took place upon its arrival at St Barnabas Church’s gate. There, Frieda Evans, the parish priest and the artist invited the crowd to ‘clip’ the church. Despite its overarching religious connotations, the act of forming a circle around the church added a universal dimension to this Christian custom. The church, decorated all the way around with sourdough breads in elaborate shapes hanging on red ribbons from the building’s façade, echoed the human bonds created around the church. Prepared by Buskova and the community members, this simple bake became a gesture of kindness and generosity. With the act of sharing and consuming the celestial crust, ‘Clipping the Church’ was finalised. The custom was reinvented, becoming not English, not Czech, but an inclusive community act.

More about the artists: 

Tereza Buskova(b.1978, Prague) completed her Fine Art Printmaking MA at the Royal College of Art in 2007. Her intuitive practices capture and renew Czech folk traditions through a combination of film making, screen printing and performance. Buskova’s work has been exhibited at Rituals, David Roberts Art Foundation, London (2008);  A Tradition I Do Not Mean To Break, Zabludowicz Collection, London (2009);  Rituals Are Tellers Of Us, Newlyn Art Gallery, UK ( 2013); and Reality Czech: the Czech Avant-Garde, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 2015. She has exhibited, performed and lectured in a broad range of different spaces including Lincoln’s Chambers Farm Wood (2010), Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo (2014), and Erdington High Street, UK (2016).


Image credits: 

Erdingtonia Series, Tereza Buskova 2016

Image Size 21×15 cm
Archival inkjet print with gold screenprint overlays
Edition number 20 + 4AP’s

Words by Caitlin Grace McDonnell

Measure of Grace

The longest person’s eyelashes were ten inches,

or maybe six. I think 8. She lived in China,

my daughter tells me, who is nine, like the youngest soccer coach, in Barcelona, which,

she says, is the best. The length of your integrity

is directly correlated to your forearm in prayer.

If you want to be seen as a woman, wear a string

of pearls. If you want to be seen as everything,

make yourself scarce. Math is comforting, my

daughter says, because the answers are clear.

Meanwhile, the length of time between school

shootings decreases at a rate comparable

to the disappearance of the words “climate change”

from government documents. Or the disappearance

of ice in the Arctic sea, or honeybees from warm

habitats. Yesterday, Sudan, the last Northern White

Rhino was put down in Kenya. The buds that bloom

beneath my daughter’s breasts are harder than

I remember on my own body, my own breasts,

whose alveoli no longer make milk. If you squint

at two women, they can almost be one.

Caitlin Grace McDonnell was a New York Times Poetry Fellow at NYU, where she received her MFA. She has published a chapbook, Dreaming the Tree (belladonna books, 2003) and a book, Looking for Small Animals (Nauset Press, 2012). Her poems, essays and book reviews have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Salon, Washington Square, Chronogram and more. She teaches writing in Brooklyn, NY, where she lives with daughter, Kaya Hope.


M.A.M.A. Issue n.36: Csilla Klenyánszki

Procreate Project, the Museum of Motherhood and the Mom Egg Review are pleased to announce the 36th edition of  this scholarly discourse intersects with the artistic 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

April, 2019 Art by Csilla Klenyánszki

Art by Csilla Klenyánszki

house ———— hold

“House/hold” is part of a research project on women’s position in the western society. It examines the evolution of gender equality in various subjects.“House/ hold” investigates the housework gap and its consequences while it provides an ironical solution for women: a 30 minute yoga session combined with domestic chores.

The session transforms the house into a space for meditation using domestic objects as its basic elements. Housework is being transformed into illumination: the repetitive act of house making becomes not just a physical but also a mental and spiritual act where women and their household objects become entangled. “House/hold” is a guide for domestic meditation.

Since the 1960s there have been lots of achievements in the path to gender equality in western society: The gender wage gap narrowed: In 1979, women working full time earned 62 percent of what men earned; in 2014, women’s earnings were 83 percent of men’s1. The number of women in the labor force with a college degree tripled: from 11.2 percent to 40.0 percent2. Woman don’t have to choose between a career and having children: while in the 1950s only 17 precent of mothers were in the labor force, in 2005 more then 60 precent of mothers with preschoolers had a paid job and 75 precent of mothers with school-aged children were working3. And yet, certain things didn’t change that much.

 

Due to industrialization and the proliferation of domestic appliances the amount of household chores done by women has dropped. On the other hand, the gap in housework distribution between men and women didn’t shrink that much and even worse since the 1990s it has been shrinking at a slower pace.

In the Netherlands, according to the Dutch Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP)4 women spend on an average 9 hours more on housework than men.

In households with children this gap is even bigger: According to SCP, Dutch mothers spend1 an average of 20,6 hours a week fulfilling domestic chores and 4,4 hours on childcare and mothers with children under the age of 3 years spend 18 hours a week on childcare and 20,6 hours on domestic chores: 15 hours more than men. According to The Second Shift written by Arlie Hochschild, mothers do at least a month unpaid work more in a year than fathers.

 

One of the consequences of this housework gap is that women have access to less leisure-time than men simply because they spend more time in unpaid work such as domestic chores and childcare. According to the ONS5 women spend 5 hours less on leisure than man on a weekly basis. The survey has also found that time spent on leisure has risen for men and dropped for women since 2000.