|Mothernists and children at Upominki - image courtesy of Weronika Zielinska|
Last summer Cultural ReProducers took part in not one but two international gatherings exploring the role of motherhood in creative work. A little while ago we shared our report on Part I, the Motherhood and Creative Practice Conference in London, England. Now at last we're sharing Part II, on The Mothernists in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
From June 5th - 7th, 2015, a group of artists, curators and scholars came together in Rotterdam to take part in The Mothernists, a remarkable three-day conference on cultural reproduction and creativity in caring labor. The event was organized by the Dutch based m/other voices foundation, and sparked by the work of the Danish artist and writer Lise Haller Baggesen, whose recent book, “Mothernism” and its interconnected installation work reframe the language of the mother-artist.
|a shared meal before the event at PrintRoom|
m/other voices began as a research project initiated by artist, writer, and curator Deirdre M. Donoghue in 2013, and has since developed into a full-fledged organization supporting critical writing, creative projects, and a range of events reflecting on the crucial role of the maternal figure as a thinker and maker. From the m/other voices website:
m/other voices considers maternity as a verb, as a type of labor, rather than as a noun pointing to
|presenters at Printroom (from l to r: Lise Haller Baggesen, Karin de Jong, |
Christa Donner, Deirdre Donoghue, and Andrea Francke.
This approach was present in every aspect of the conference, resulting in a unique hybrid of critical thought, generosity, and creative exchange. Active participants included not just mothers but also fathers, m/other voices followers, some of whom are not parents themselves, and caregivers of many kinds. Between presentations, participants were offered free massages by local doulas, those women skilled in caring for women first entering motherhood. And instead of congregating in a hotel, (m)other voices coordinated a network of local artists to host out-of-town visitors in their homes (and for a lucky few, a fully-outfitted camper van).
The Mothernists opened on Friday night with a potluck meal and a book launch/reading at PrintRoom, a vibrant bookstore and risograph workshop piled high with small-press, artist-made publications from around the world. Lise Haller Baggesen kicked off the evening with selections from “Mothernism”, followed by dynamic presentations by Andrea Francke on her project “The Invisible Spaces of Parenthood,” Christa Donner on “Propositions, Manifestos and Experiments,” and actress and writer Terri Hawkes on “Performing Motherhood.”
|Andrea Francke (top) and mothernist doula care (bottom)|
In the evening, a group meal at the Ethiopian restaurant M'n Schoonmoeder or “My Mother-in-Law” offered space for further conversation before overflowing out and across the street to the nonprofit gallery Upominki for a richly interconnected exhibition curated by Gallery Director Weronika Zielinska, who we learned had just given birth to her second child just a few days before the opening!
The event closed on Sunday with an informal roundtable discussion to process the weekend’s events. There was a sense of urgency to the conversation, and a commitment to continue it in various forms. I packed my bags to return home feeling inspired, supported, and that with collaborators like these, a whole lot is possible. The revolution may happen slowly, organized via Skype after our children are in bed or off to school, but it’s underway. Stay tuned.