New Maternalisms

Friday March 23, 7pm (performances)
Saturday March 24, 1-4pm (round table)
Saturday March 24, 7pm (performances)
Sunday March 25, 1-4pm (Milk Truck event)

Mercer Union
1286 Bloor Street West, Toronto
$12 weekend pass / $6 per evening
Talk & Milk Truck event FREE


New Maternalisms
Curated by Natalie S. Loveless


Live Performance
Alejandra Herrera Silva (Chilé/USA)
Lovisa Johansson (Sweden)
Hélène Matte (Québec)
Jill Miller (USA)
Marlène Renaud-B (Québec) 

Skype performance
Lenka Clayton (UK/USA)

Performance-based Video
Alice De Visscher (Belgium)
Dillon Paul, Lindsay Wolkowicz and Maeve Paul (USA)
Gina Miller and her three children (Vancouver)
Beth Hall, Mark Cooley, and daughter (USA)
Victoria Singh, Kurtis Singh-Champion (with Linda Montano) (New Zealand)

Masha Godovannaya with her child and partner (Russia/USA) 

Mama-writer-in-residence Christine Pountney will be live blogging in real time from the gallery throughout the event at http://newmaternalisms.wordpress.com/


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 ways that invite us to ask questions about maternal invisibilities and the power and challenge of the maternal to the professional body of the artist. 

~Natalie S. Loveless, March 2012



Friday March 23, 7–10pm
Durational performances by Lenka Clayton, JIll MIller, Alejandra Herrera Silva, and Lovisa Johansson; and performance-based videos installed throughout the gallery.

Saturday March 24, 
1–4pm (FREE)
Round-Table Discussion with Artists

Saturday March 24, 
Durational performance by Lenka Clayton and Jill Miller, and live performances by Lovisa Johnsson, Hélène Matte, Marlène Renaud-B; and performance-based videos installed throughout the gallery.

Sunday March 25, 
1–4pm (FREE)
Mamactivism Talk with Jill Miller of The Milk Truck



Maternity Leave by Lenka Clayton is a durational, Skype-mediated piece that invokes overlapping cycles of responsibility: government to citizen, institution to artist, artist to audience, parent to child, and audience to artwork. Maternity Leave was originally commissioned by the Carnegie Museum of Art for the exhibition Pittsburgh Biennial.

Challenge by Alejandra Herrera Silva is a durational piece exploring the impact and affect of maternal labour.

Milky Way and Jumping Lullaby by Lovisa JohanssonMilky Way is a durational piece inspired by the intimacy of the breastfeeding relation. Jumping Lullaby invokes the unique despair of maternal sleep deprivation.


L’Essence de la Vie by Hélène Matte is an action and text-based piece that offers a provocative, humorous, and sometimes threatening take on maternal embodiment and the cycle of life.


Jill Miller brings The Milk Truck (www.themilktruck.org), a mobile breastfeeding unit that combines guerilla theater, activism and slapstick humor, to Toronto for its Canadian debut. The Milk Truck will be running in Toronto from Friday March 23–Sunday March 25, and will be parked in front of the gallery during performances and events. In preparation for its arrival, The Milk Truck is collecting personal stories from mothers who have breastfed children in public in Toronto (at any time, past or present). We are collecting stories to create a narrative about the city. http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/6Q3TSP6

Please forward to any Moms you know, and/or contact Jill Miller at jill@jillmiller.net

Dis/sociation by Marlène Renaud-B is an action and endurance-based performance exploring the complex ambivalence of maternal enmeshment.



Beth Hall and Mark Cooley present Safe (60 min loop), a performance and research-based video juxtaposing the daily rituals of child care-giving with the immensity of the information and disinfomation overload that has come to characterize much contemporary maternal experience.

Masha Godovannaya presents Hunger (39 min loop), a performance-based, split-screen video recording her experience of the conflicts of motherhood, creativity, domesticity and critical self-reflection.

Gina Miller presents Family Tissues (6 min loop), a video documenting and contextualizing a social-practice performance in which she defrosts and discusses her childrens’ placentas with them.

Dillon Paul and Lindsey Wolkowicz present In Place (3 min loop), a performance-based video that offers a round-the-clock time-lapsed view into the shifting puzzle pieces, rhythms, and textures of the artists’ family routine.


Victoria Singh presents SON/ART: Kurtis the 7 Chakra Boy (22 min loop), a video that compiles documentation from the seven year LIFE/ART performance that she began on July 7, 2004, in collaboration with Linda Montano (Another 21 years of Living Art). The soundtrack was composed specifically for this piece by Kurtis' father, Derek Champion.


Alice De Visscher presents Dream or Nightmare of Motherhood (4 min loop), two short performance-based videos that invoke her fantasies and fears surrounding the experiences of birth and lactation.




Photo credits (from top left): Postcard designed by Lisa Kiss, Jill Miller, Alice De Visscher, Alejandra Herrera Silva, Hélène Matte, Lovisa Johansson, Gina Miller, Marlène Renaud-B, Lenka Clayton, Victoria Singh, Masha Godovannaya.


[ Special Presentations ]

+ NEW MATERNALISMS BLOG by Christine Poutney
+ IMAGE GALLERY: Challenge by Alejandra Herrera Silva
+ IMAGE GALLERY: Lullaby by Lovisa Johansson
+ IMAGE GALLERY: Milky Way by Lovisa Johansson
+ IMAGE GALLERY: The Milk Truck by Jill Miller
+ DOWNLOAD PDF: New Maternalisms booklette