Artlink March 2018

Watch this space … writing about boobscapes for a special edition of Artlink entitled Considering the Animals, due for release in March 2018.

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boobscape back to the studio

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”[1]

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,[2] 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[3] 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”[4] 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.[5]

[1] Imogen Tyler – What is ‘social abjection’? available online https://socialabjection.wordpress.com/what-is-social-abjection/

[2] Breast-feeding of Animals by Women: Its Socio-Cultural Context and Geographic Occurrance, Frederick J Simoons, James A Baldwin, Anthropos, 77, 1982

[3] http://domesticgeekgirl.com/health-home/history-baby-formula-emergency-baby-food-became-everyday-meal-babies-america/

[4] ‘Reproduction in Mammals: Vol 3, Hormonal control of reproduction’, Austin & Short, Cambridge Uni Press, 1984, 228

[5] (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.)”

 

Dear Dairy: The True Cost of Milk

NZ speakers

Speakers at Dear Dairy: The True Cost of Milk.  Friday 21st July 2017
hosted by the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies, University of Canterbury
Organisers Kirsty Dunn and Annie Potts
(from left to right: Alison Loveridge, Yamini Narayanan, Lynley Tulloch, Kathryn Stringer, Rowan Taylor, Iselin Gambert, lynn mowson, Tobias Linné, Andrew Knight, Jasmijn DeBoo, Prabha Mallya (graphic illustrator for the conference), Philip Armstrong.

 

Udderly – testing continues

Cast 1b – boob-scape cast in coloured latex.  Udder form 2a in progess with latex milk thread test.   Slow progress in material driven iterative practice.  Moulds made for larger udder series 3 yet to be cast.