An open journal on a table that reads, "through her desire for a child but that desire is punished by death. Another mother unpredictably appears. This time she is a jealous mother and murderous mother and she too must die. These mothers simply desire it and make it the main protagonists of the story happen. have no story of their own". Then there is some text that is scribbled out and the writing continues to read" 31st October. Halloween - all is monstrous, our excessive mothers. I think of the abject. I think of the furor of mothering, of bad mothers, of overbearing mothers. I think of the real that is smashed through".

Birthing a creative journey

This project seeks to better understand the condition of the maternal through a study of maternal performance. It is driven by researching both the conditions in which mother artists make work and the contexts in which that work is received. 

Our primary research question is:

  • How does maternal performance help us to understand the lived condition of motherhood?

Following on from this, a number of secondary research questions emerge:

  • What processes, strategies and methodologies are used by performance practitioners and mother/artists in various international contexts working with maternal themes?
  • What are the current maternal arts contexts and environments?
  • What kind of maternal art networks exist?
  • What is the history of the relationship between motherhood and feminism
  • What is specific about maternal performance, as opposed to other artforms?
  • How is the maternal life/art dyad informed by both performance practice and theory?
  • How is maternal subjectivity framed in both representations of motherhood and of being mothered?
  • What can a maternal sense of subjectivity offer in performance encounters?
  • In what ways is it possible to approach the ‘other’, study ‘exile’ and engage with the materiality of art encounters through maternal sensibilities?

This research begins to interrogate and bring insights to these questions, inviting interdisciplinary conversations between performance scholars, artists and practitioners, as well as individuals working in healthcare and policy and others who may be engaged in the ‘caring professions’.

The research will be developed and disseminated through mother/artist interviews, the organisation of online events including forums and workshops, the presentation of papers at international conferences, a co-authored monograph on maternal performance and a policy briefing.