Issue 38 – October Casey Jenkins – sMother [Performance]
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 childbearing age’, paralyzing us with fear and shame. Our identities are subdued and mummified in forced acquiescence by community expectations that preserve absurd gender roles.
At nearly 38 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 but 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 childbearing age’, involving discomfort, fear, frustration and claustrophobia. Each stitch may be seen as a mark of acquiescence to the absurdity of gender expectations – an acquiescence that at first may comfort and shield, but soon distorts, binds and restricts.
Artist Biography: 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, and SomoS Art House, Berlin.
The Mom Egg Review
LEARNING THE HARD WAY
By Amy Watkins
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.
Bio: Although she was born in a landlocked state, Amy Watkins grew up in Florida, where one is never more than 70 miles from saltwater. Her poems have appeared in the Apalachee Review, Bayou Magazine and The Glass Coin. She is co-editor and host of the weekly poetry podcast Red Lion Sq.
TWITTER: @AmyWatkinsThe Museum of Motherhood, the ProCreate Project, the Mom Egg Review, and the Mother Magazine are pleased to announce the launch of a bi-monthly international exchange of ideas and art. M.A.M.A. will celebrate the notion of being “pregnant with ideas” in new ways. 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 creative, 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. Download the Press Release here or read about updated initiatives. #JoinMAMA @ProcreateProj @MOMmuseum @TheMomEgg