Maternal Performance: Relations and Embodiments

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    This paper will present the synchronous relationship between the artform of performance and the maternal. Drawing on Hannah Arendt’s distinction between the private realm of labour and the public domain of action, we will argue that performance is able to make visible the quotidian and often invisible experience of the maternal and present it as worthy of intellectual and political consideration, which is a radical act of resistance. We will draw on the findings of our performance and the Maternal research project which includes a series of ‘Engage’
    fora (Autumn 2020) and twelve interviews with prominent international mother/artists which we have conducted since 2016. The contribution will take the form of a correspondence between the two authors in order to emphasise the relational.
    Both performance and the maternal discipline privilege the body of the artist or
    the mother, the body which is making real actions in a specific time and place. It is through performance and live art that mother/artists’ maternal bodies are made visible and employed as a transgressive site of meaning, allowing a renegotiation of what it is to mother and what is a maternal act. The presentation will discuss the work of some of the most transgressive and radical bodily acts of maternal performances (Amanda Coogan, Helena Walsh, Lynn Lu, Nathalie Angeuzomo Mba Bikoro), which are brought to public consideration through performance art. The public presentation of the oozing maternal body, with leaking breasts, bloody uterus and various other bodily excretions, is routine in the daily action of caring for a dependent other, and yet becomes radical when placed in the public domain for consideration as the site of meaning.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021
    EventThe Missing Mother - University of Bolton/online, Bolton, United Kingdom
    Duration: 22 Apr 202123 Apr 2021


    ConferenceThe Missing Mother
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


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