THE PRECIPICE: Motherhood v. Otherhood

An ongoing archive project.

With a specific focus on women-in-the-arts, this archive explores some of the most problematic intersections of our time: mothering and creativity, partnering and independence, economics and art.

The studies, interviews, essays and articles linked here are collected and categorised. This is a work in progress – I will continue to add to it as I encounter relevant voices, ideas and research on the topic. If you have a piece to add to the archive, please tag @sanchobelly on Twitter, @sanne_mestrom on Instagram, or email s@mestrom.org

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“I know lots of artists who have children, so that’s not the reason why I didn’t have them, because I thought I couldn’t make art,” she says. The reason she didn’t have children, Heti says, is because she didn’t want to, and that’s all that needs saying. “But you have to have reasons,” she adds wryly.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/feb/12/sheila-heti-books-by-women-still-get-treated-differently-from-those-by-men

Tracey Emin: ‘There are good artists that have children. They are called men’

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/08/tracey-emin-has-chosen-art-over-kids-but-life-doesnt-need-to-be-that-black-and-white

This text introduces a small part of larger project that explores not only the work of the artist Tracey Emin, but also that of other women artists whose work is considered in relation to ideas of melancholy and maternity. The project as a whole endeavors to understand the idea of melancholy, suggested by psychoanalyst Julia Kristeva as one that is ‘irreducible to its verbal or semiological expressions’.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285122398_Work_in_Progress_Tracey_Emin_Ideas_of_melancholy_and_maternity

The gradual decline in overall fertility rates masks more variation by age (US Census data). In 1990, there were 31.50 births for every 1,000 women ages 35-39. In 2019 there were 52.72 births for every 1,000 women ages 35-39 — a 67.35% increase. The data suggests women are older when having children, but overall fertility rates are declining because the jump in birth rates of older women is not enough to offset declines in birth rates of younger women.

https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/04/fertility-rates-declined-for-younger-women-increased-for-older-women.html

The aphorism “birds of a feather flock together” describes the fact that people tend to prefer associating with others who are similar to themselves. What about parental status? Do parents prefer other parents? What about child-free people who don’t want to be parents? Do these preferences even matter?

https://theconversation.com/parents-have-very-warm-feelings-toward-other-parents-heres-why-that-could-be-bad-news-for-the-child-free-190406

A CELEBRATION, A COMMITMENT AND A CALL TO ACTION, KNOW MY NAME IS A GENDER EQUITY INITIATIVE OF THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF AUSTRALIA. KNOW MY NAME CELEBRATES THE WORK OF ALL WOMEN ARTISTS WITH AN AIM TO ENHANCE UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO AUSTRALIA’S CULTURAL LIFE.

https://nga.gov.au/knowmyname/

Know My Name is more than an art exhibition, although the exhibition attached to its launch is large, complex and wonderful. Described as a “gender equity initiative”, it is part of a strategy by NGA Director Nick Mitzevich to move towards a culture of inclusion in both collecting and exhibiting.

https://theconversation.com/beauty-and-audacity-know-my-name-presents-a-new-female-story-of-australian-art-150139

From 1971: Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?

https://www.artnews.com/art-news/retrospective/why-have-there-been-no-great-women-artists-4201/

The Countess Report is an independent artist run initiative that publishes data on gender representation in the Australian contemporary art world. An artist run initiative, Countess simultaneously works in the legacies of institutional critique and research based conceptual art practices.

https://countess.report/about