My new work is focusing on the relationships between the dairy industry (boobscape), the collection of ‘co-products’ such as foetal-bovine serum, placental tissues, slink leather from foetal bodies (slink), the demand of these foetal tissue and blood products in cellular technology in particular in-vitro meat and bio-fabricated leather. Using my pre-existing sculptures, and new forms, I will trace the connections between these industries, as well as continue my focus on the broader environmental impact of the dairy industry, in particular the leaching of excess nutrients into the waterways/water table.
Just started work on re-purposing some existing sculptures. Using the skins from boobscape – inverting breasts and teats, to create some small wall sculptures for the Vulva Project, curated by artist Rebeka Axon. It’s an interesting process, and very much a homage to those feminist precursors – it’s been almost 30 years since I first started teaching visual art / art history – and I remember the difficulties (pre-internet) of finding and incorporating the ‘cunt art’ of the 1970s such as the amazing Hannah Wilke’s – S.O.S. – Starification Object Series. 1974-82, and of course Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party.
Using the skins from these works, for me, brings the material meanings of slink and boobscape into this work, and further entangles those maternal material bodies.
I was delighted this week to be invited to speak at the Animaladies II conference later in the year! Very excited about the line up of speakers. Also – they have used a detail of boobscape for the poster.
Delighted that this image of my sculptural installation boobscape (2016-18) has been selected for the front cover of the forthcoming (Dec 18) book animaladies, Bloomsbury Press, 2018. I also have an essay featured in the collection ‘making and unmaking mammalian bodies’.
time to get back into the studio… time to follow the worldly entanglements this work is leading me through. An excerpt of my recent talk below reveals some of these – and there are many more leaky strands, further twists and knots gather in the possibilities and limitations of species blurring, multi-species nurturing, bio-economies, and mammal-free milk, art histories and feminist art practices, and the environmental impacts on the more-than-human world we inhabit. I hope to find somewhere to exhibit this envisage large scale work in 2018.
“boobscape: the breasts bud and form and mutate; there are supernumerary teats, prepubescent nipples, worn nipples, breasts, multiple mammaries, and mammal mammary lactations. Calves can be born with an extra teat, a supernumerary teat, a sprig or a web teat, these are removed because they can interfere with future milk collection practices. They can be cut off with scissors, the code recommends but does not enforce pain relief. Teats are unwanted items in leather production, waste by-products. These additional growth like teats, multiple nipples budding are also forms that incorporate the more than animal world.
Leaking Lactations: This is not the dripping wet performativity of abjection, this is not where abjection lies in this work. Although abjection lurks around, in those leaky nipples, those pendulous maternal breasts, paying homage to the maternal foremothers of the monstrous feminine, but I step carefully around the abyss of abjection, to avoid reproducing the abjection of the animal body, and to avoid what Imogen Tyler calls those “histories of violent disgust towards maternal bodies”
There is an art historical lineage of multiple breasts, and breast-feeding by humans and animals – animals feeding humans and humans feeding humans, all kinds of interspecies feedings, nuturings and sucklings. Folk stories tell of lost children raised by bears, wolves. Suckling goes both ways, but these knowledges mostly in the realm of internet fascination and fetishisation. Interspecies suckling like adults drinking human breast milk – is a site of taboo, myth, metaphor and humour. Societal abjection dwells in the revolt and disgust that circulates around whose milk? the naturalised drinking of the mammary fluids of particularly culturally approved domesticated mammal species, the ‘horror’ of accidentally drinking human breast milk, the outrage at women breast feeding in public, breasts in the wrong places, or breast feeding an infant for too many years, or breast feeding other species, who is it okay to feed? who is it okay to milk?
When I blur the boundaries between species I see a history that has animal and human-animal suckling closely entwined, although these are no utopian spaces, human needs surmounting animal needs. Opting out of breast feeding historically was based on class and wealth and necessity, both animals and humans have served as wet nurses. Bottle feeding formula, once an emergency supplement, was marketed as the healthy Dr’s choice, emancipating women from the labour of child raising, while depending upon the domination and exploitation of another species. While it was possible in the eighties to say that the “chemical and immunological characteristics of milk were highly species specific, so that attempts to ‘humanise’ ruminant milks were something of a biochemical nonsense”…  Advances in biotechnology have changed this, and while transgenic cows are still aspirational, the demand for milk formulas will ensure that experiments such as those in 2011 in which 300 cows were given human genes in order to produce human breast milk will continue.
 Imogen Tyler – What is ‘social abjection’? available online https://socialabjection.wordpress.com/what-is-social-abjection/
 Breast-feeding of Animals by Women: Its Socio-Cultural Context and Geographic Occurrance, Frederick J Simoons, James A Baldwin, Anthropos, 77, 1982
 ‘Reproduction in Mammals: Vol 3, Hormonal control of reproduction’, Austin & Short, Cambridge Uni Press, 1984, 228
 (Daily Mail article/reuters etc. 16/6/11 Classical Medicine Journal (14 April 2010). “Genetically modified cows producing human milk.”. Archived from the original on 2014-11-06. Also – Argentina ‘Rosita’ a transgenic cows Cows – Yapp, Robin (11 June 2011). “Scientists create cow that produces ‘human’ milk”. The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 15 June 2012.)”