Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art) 2016!

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Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art) 2016! is a collaborative project by Lena Simic and Emily Underwood-Lee.

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Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art) 2016! has been published in Performance Research journal, special edition On the Maternal. The piece pays tribute to Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!. The Manifesto embraces the messiness and daily action of the maternal and strives to nurture an understanding of daily maternal practice. ‘Maternal time’ takes precedence over ‘maternal topics’: things to do with temporality and dead time, and wasted time, and interruptions, and illness, and duration, and endurance and the impossibility of doing it, ever finishing it completely. The desire for development and progress is rejected. The Manifesto was written in 40 days to mirror the 40-week gestation period during which a human mother carries her child. The Manifesto was born of practice, co-writing alongside mothering, the authors in relation to one another, separated over geographic and temporal space, but constantly in response to, and developed and supported by, the absent other.


Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art) 2016! was first presented in Zagreb, Croatia for ‘Bringing Up the Future’ exhibition and conference at SC Gallery, University of Zagreb in February 2017, followed by ‘Oxytocin Festival’ at the Royal College of Art in London in June 2017,  ‘The Mothernists II: Who Cares for the 21st Century?’ symposium co-hosted by Astrid Noack’s Atelier and the Royal Danish Art Academy in Copenhagen in October 2017 and the Live Art Development Agency in London in December 2017.

A special performance of Manifesto for Maternal Performance (Art) 2016! took place at the Institute for Lena’s 43rd birthday. Manifesto was collectively read by Lena, Gary, Ben Phillips, Jennifer Verson, Lorena Rivero de Beer, Michelle Man, Steve Shakespeare and Tim Jeeves.

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