New Maternalisms started for me with the following questions: forty years after the intervention of feminist art around the sexual division of labour, what is the experience of the daughters of that era, now that they have become mothers? How is that expressed in their artwork and how does this artwork relate to the work that was being done in the 70s?  I am thinking, of course, of work like Mary Kelly’s infamous six-year installation piece Post-Partum Document, which she worked on from 1973 to 1979. With Kelly’s work in mind, I invited a group of artist-mothers to produce a performance or video piece speaking to their experience as mother-artists today. These artists use performance to bring attention to the embodied, biological, and material enmeshment of early maternity in ways that stand in stark formal contrast to Kelly’s work. They do this in a way, however, that is not simply at odds with the insights of post-structuralism and the linguistic turn informing Post Partum Document. Rather, while grounded in a “return to the body,” they demonstrate a commitment to non-determinist modes of signification and analysis, opening up the affective, enmeshed, experiential flows of maternal experience in was that invite us to ask questions about maternal invisibilites and the power and challenge of the maternal to the professional body of the artist.

Natalie S. Loveless, March 2012



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