How to talk about motherhood-Gestation

•March 23, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It becomes important to revise our vocabulary concerning motherhood. How we use this liminal state of our body and psyche as women  in the age of screen technology? Do we aloud the voice to disappear   in the pixeleted world or to be overtaken by propositions for return to patriarchal values?  It seems that the mothers body are ever so present and ever so empty in meaning.

  “Grizzly mothers” are overtaking rapidly with their values, diminishing everything that offers slightly different concept. And the Hollywood stars are advertising healthy lifestyle, through returning perfect body shape after a challenging body condition. Through the act of representing the female mother body as object, they promote return to the historic male perspective – clear separation and idealization of the mother-child relationship-in-creation. Betterton argues that “for a woman artist to represent the female body is to confront the question of likeness as well as difference, of proximity to, as well as distance from the maternal body.” (p.29)

So, how did we lose the empowering status of this ever shifting condition. How do we assemble on screen the female dual role as biological and intellectual producer? I start my exploration through offering the maternal body as a disruption between the permeable borderline between nature and culture. The maternal body points to the impossibility of closure, to a liminal state where the boundaries of the body are fluid. In the act of giving birth, as well as during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the body of the mother is the subject of a constant exchange with that of the child. The mothernal (especially pregnant) body signifies the state in which the boundaries of inside and outside, self and other , dissolve.  Kristeva calls the maternal body ” a thoroughfare, a threshold where ‘nature’ confronts ‘culture'(1986,p.182). I am interested in this passage and how it shape us as woman. And finally, how the screen technologies are changing and shaping this fluid borderline state?

Letter to my daughters No.32

I woke up in a sunny room. I can see the shadows on the wall, crisp and dark, almost unreal. And suddenly I remember, and feel…I can feel my stomach and something heavy on top of it…And the pain, that exquisite pain of childbirth. The nurse is entering the room, followed by a cleaning lady.

“Where is my child? What do I have-a girl or a boy?”

” I am here to make sure that you are all right, nothing more, nothing less.”  She writes something on my chart and disapears.

My heart sinks, I immediately think that there is something wrong, the tears just start rolling…

The cleaning lady takes my hand, and reads loudly from my bracelet…”Baby girl, 3560 gr, 51 cm, yellow room…she is fine dear, you will see her soon.”

We hold hands for a moment, she is an older Roma  lady, with dark hair and big eyes and I, deeply embedded in my pain, am grateful for her motherly compassion.

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Living map

•June 14, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Braidotti is constantly challenging her way of theoretical reasoning and writing, and in “Methamorphosis” ask a really important questions about the current state of the theoretical debate. She argues: “the point is not know who we are, but rather what, at last, we want to become, hot to represent mutations, changes and transformations, rather than Being in its classical modes.” ( 2002, p.2). For Braidotti figuration’s are not only figurative ways of thinking, but materialistic mapping of situated, or embedded and embodied, positions. Figuration is a politically informed map that outlines our own situated perspective. As an artist with “Valid unti…” I was testing this territory. The definition of my identity takes place between nature-technology, male-female, black-white, in the spaces that flow and connect in between. The work comments upon the permanent process of transition, hybridization and nomadization that we live in.
For Braidotti, figuration is a living map; a transformative account of the self-it is no metaphor. Being nomadic, homeless, an exile, a refugee, an itinerant migrant, an illegal immigrant, is no metaphor. There are highly specific geo-political and historical locations-history tattooed on your body. One may be empowered or beautified by it, but most people are not; some just die of it. (2002, p.3) .

Chicago, winter 2005. On a friends baby shower party. It is the first winter day, snow and wind, it is absolutely freezing outside. Standing next to a woman that I just met, waiting for our guest of honour to come. I hardly know anyone on this party, moreover it is my first experience of baby shower. She tries to understand where is Macedonia, I try to explain what I am doing here. And there she is, gutted by the snow, in a long greyish, old coat probably borrowed from her husband, Her hair is socking wet, and her face is pale from the cold. She enters shivering with a hesitant smile, her belly popping the buttons of the coat.
A man from the same end of the room, apparently half drunk and out of place in this whole “embrace the feminine” situation yells at her.
“Oh, there she is, Ann love, you look like an Eastern European women.”
And bursts in loud laughter.
She smiles back at him, puzzled with the comment, and then her gaze is frozen on my face. Her lips move in whisper
“ Sorry”.
I just wave my hand…
The woman next to me asks:
“ So Macedonia was in Eastern Europe? “
I nod with my head, starring at my shadow, thinking to myself:
“Can you tell that I am Eastern European? “

Land ( Valid until 30 June 2010 – Day 63- Day 56)

•May 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Lippard describes the ‘land’ as neither place nor landscape nor property. Land, for Lippard, is a distinctive spatial and spiritual element as well as the raw material for habitation and ‘use. She categorise the land in three divisions: physical land, metaphorical land and ideological land. I want to extended this and discuss a bit about how this divisions are especially visible on the female body and through the digital screen. It is an amazing potentially of the digital media, to articulate the layers of what land is through the screen. By translating the physicality into 1 and 0, and hybrids between real and immaterial surfaces, Google Maps are example about how we assemble everyday motion on screen by digitalising data. The routes are calculated, shortest and fastest options are generated, images and videos are attached to streets and parks, histories are reinstated, and personal stories are overlooked. The land through GoogleMaps becomes territory that is easily conquerable (you can get directions from Northampton, East Midlands to Istres, South France in a second), transferable surface that can be explored through different perspectives and angles (as part of GoogleEarth you can explore properties, building, parks, and corners), and finally a (in)visible battleground of public/private debate (the level of information of what is available is strictly reinforcing the East/West, South/North division).

Walking is a connection between the women and the land. Walking is a form of meditation. Motion allows a certain mental freedom that translates land to a person kinaesthetically. “Walking is the only way to measure the rhythm of the body against the rhythm of the land.” Writes Rebecca Solnit. When I was walking, says Lippard, I began to perceive places as spatial metaphors for temporal distance. Women, when alone with nature, are subject to particularly contradictory experience, liberating on one hand, threatening on the other. There is another predator out there: exhilarating sensual identification with landforms and processes is countered by social fear and oppression. (Lippard 1997, p.14) . In my work, I use the act of walking to access the land and my relationship with it, whether it is physical, metaphorical or ideological.

M is calling me from Düsseldorf. He is thrilled; he just got a new phone with GPS. It early 2006, and the GPS as consistent part of mobile phones is just coming out. We are getting ready to drive to Croatia, to a small island of Mljet (isolated refugee in the Adriatic) for our summer holiday. A bit worried that we have to cross Kosovo, but M reassures me that with our GPS we can go to the end of the world and back.
He is back in Skopje, we are getting packed. We go on a local ride to try our GPS. Suddenly the screen is almost blank, there are satellites, but there is no data that our road, our city, our country exists. We are in the middle of a buzzing city, and our screen is empty as a lonely field. Our land, our motherland, our apartment, our illusion does not exists, is not recognised by the technology, is not translated into the data. It is a blank field on the world map, a place that should rather disappear. How our land history is translated into data? Who is making the choice?

Foreign matter ( Valid until 30 June 2010 – Day 72- Day 64)

•April 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In his discussion on urban space, Fumihiko Maki applies his Asian origin to Western education, to challenge the (one) dimensionality of homeland/outland binary. The point that he uses to strand this, is the term “foreign matter”, a term he borrows from Koichi Isoda study on Tokyo.
“ A visitor from without is always perceived as ‘foreign matter’ in a stable cultural sphere.”

For Maki, homeland and outland are mental landscapes, within which foreign matter exists as objects. The homeland is a landscape already inscribed with time. The outland, however, is a landscape in which time and space are both obscure. ( Maki 2008 , p.119). But for my research the most interesting division that he tries to apply is considering the outland as an imaginary created space, which is gradually transforming the hard-edged, tactile world into a world of different dimensions. In this case, the screen can be considered as an outland, especially with all the screen devices (mobile phones, lap top computer, GPS devices) that are mediating our everyday life. Homeland is a spatial image carrying the full weight of time. It possesses a clear visual pattern and a recognized structure of meaning. The screen as outland is liberated from time, visually amorphous and in a state of suspended meaning. In the homeland, space is controlled by the powerful will of the group, but in the outland, on the screen, the individual’s imagination is permitted to wander. ( Maki 2008, p.120).
The notion of the screen as outland, come to the point with sites in cities/towns that can both perform the public and the private role. Reversal in roles of public and private space is taking place and emergence of other domains should be notes. Screen bears this characteristic; screens are dual sites, public site that can be experienced as private in the most fundamental sense. Even so, people today are able to maintain their presence in public space in the privacy of their rooms through the screens. Screens are emerging as countless public spaces. But, as Maki concluded it is entirely up to every individual to determine how this homogeneous space is to be manipulated. Also, how foreign can be created, perpetuated and reinforced through the screen as an outland space with suspended meaning. In contemporary society, everyone is empowered through screen* to a certain level and must bear responsibility for the results. (Maki 2008, p.129)

I remember the first time when my parents took me to visit a mosque. There are beautiful Ottoman mosques in my city and as Christians, we hardly every visit them. My parents love the mosques, and the Ottoman architecture. My father bought me ice cream from the Old Bazaar. We ate it while crossing the Open market and looking at spices, fresh fruit and vegetables, chickens and eggs, underwear and linens. He talks constantly about the shapes, and corners and angels and colors…I scarcely hear anything, but I enjoy the security of his velvety voice. And then we entered the mosque’s yard, it was flooded with roses – white, purple, yellow, red…We took the shoes off, and entered. My father leaves us at the door. I am puzzled. My mom pulls my hand. I look at the walls, abstract shapes in blue and orange, it’s so silent. We sit in the left corner, behind the wooden screen. Through the holes, I stare at the bare foots of kneeling men. It feels like home, but so foreign. It smells different. I look through the screen, it is like a different country, outland…And then with the corner of my eye I see my father, between all those silhouettes that go up and down in a repetitive movement. Still and with a flickering smile on his face. Maybe we are home anyway.

Screen=Body ( Valid until 30 June 2010 – Day 83- Day 73)

•April 20, 2010 • Leave a Comment

The screen is an extremely ambivalent material object, functioning simultaneously as a material surface and as an immaterial or conceptual threshold to imagery or other information. Kate Mondloch uses the term ‘screen-reliant’ in opposition to the term ‘screen-based’ to signal that the screen is a performative category. According to Murdoch almost anything- glass, architecture, three-dimensional objects and so on-can function as screen and thus as a connective interface to another(virtual) space. This links with the Deleuze observation that ‘everything’ can be a screen. I want to propose that also, due to the nature of the pervasive, mobile digital media, the body becomes a screen, and we have an erasure of the border between the screen and the body, the viewer and the screen. So the viewer-screen interface, that Murdoch considers to be the neglected circuit between the bodies and the screens, becomes blended with the viewer’s body.
The body can be dismissed, disseminated and reassembled on the/ as a screen. Body=screen.
What does it mean to blend the body with the screen?
What does it mean to be denied entry into the illusionist screen space?

It is March 24, 1999. Sitting in the leaving room of my friend, five-six of us. Watching CNN, drinking cheap red wine with Coke, so called “bambus”. It is early evening, already drunk, my friend offers me weed, CNN and Faith no More in the background, we start laughing. It gets dark in the room, the screen is gazing, I walk to the window, it’s early spring and it smells of blossoms. I can hear voices in the air.
It started.
Are you serious?
No, look, the plains just departed.

I can hear the noise, the plains, the sound of engines in the air. I feel bitterness, fear, and anxiety. The air smells like fire. The sound of the engines is repetitive and annoying.
They burned the USA Embassy, look, look…
Is that going to change anything?
Those stupid idealist.

We see the planes on the screen, data and numbers circling bellow. The glow fills the room. We hear them in the air. I think of my aunty, I hope she is safe.
Another go?
The smell of weed makes me sick. I vomit in the toilet, while the engines fill the bathroom with a shattering noise. I need to sleep.

How we DO our bodies? ( Valid until 30 June 2010 – Day 91- Day 86)

•April 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Mol and Law, in their specific study of how hypoglycaemia is handled by people with diabetes, are attending the way we DO our bodies. By attempting to leave the commonplace that we have and are our bodies, they talk about the body that is not a bounded whole, but its boundaries leak. As they argue, “bits and pieces of the outside get incorporated within the active body; while the centre of some bodily activities is beyond the skin.” (2004, p.1) This body is not a well defined whole; it is not closed off, but has semi-permeable boundaries.

In a similar manner, Maike Blekeer writes about the historical anatomic theatre, where the body as well is demonstrated and performed in the same time. Anatomy involves cutting and studying of the bodies, therefore through demonstration “performs constative acts that produce knowledge by means of a public demonstration of ‘how it is’ with the body.’ (Bleeker 2008, ) . This is what Mieke Bal (1996) has termed a ‘gesture of exposing’ that involves the authority of a person who knows, who points to bodies and is capable to ‘construct’ the body ‘as it is’. Mol and Law discuss the measuring procedure, where the body interacts with the machine:
Hands are active in measuring hypoglycaemia but they do not act alone. They interact with machinery. The success of this interaction depends on the extent to which hands and machines are adapted and adaptable to one another. Some things can be done, if only a body is prepared and trained to do them – others falter when a machine is not properly adjusted to the body it must serve. []The actively measuring body merges with its measurement machines. What about the body that feels? (2001, p.10)

And I find this last question quite important. Even more I believe that it should be extended for my study. What about the body that feels and how is that transcribed in a digital data? My body is active in producing and providing data, but my active body is not isolated. Instead the boundaries are leaky. An active body incorporates bits and pieces of the world around it, while its action may be shifted out of the body, excorporated into data. The body becomes a set of tensions.
Similarly to medical sites (hospitals, surgeries etc.), the border sites (border controls, detention camps etc.) are radically exposing the body and are creating extreme conditions of separation between feeling and action. Or as Mol and Law are concluding:
You do not have, you are not, a body-that-hangs-together, naturally, all by itself. Keeping yourself whole is one the tasks of life. It is not given but must be achieved, both beneath the skin and beyond, in practice. (2001, p.15)

Five months pregnant. Entering ** to start up my studies, and enrol. Received a valid visa. Have to go through Entry clearance. I feel really tired, it was a long flight and my body is slowed down. I am waiting in the line, it seems forever, dizzy feeling in my head, the plane was late, I have to catch a bus, its almost midnight, I am going to this town first time in my life and …I am not alone.
Good evening.
Good evening.
( few more minutes, she disappears without explanation in a door behind the post, nausia)
Do you have all the support documents?
Of course.
( I am handing down a folder filled with documents, some of them quite personal, like a complete bank statement. She reads them slowly and talks into her chin)
Who is pregnant?
I am pregnant.
( She seems rather surprised, confused and in panic)
You know you are not allowed to give birth in this country.
( I am not quite sure about the legal legitimacy of her statement, but I go with it).
I am aware; I have a return ticket for next week.
( She is still uneasy, she leaves the post one more time. She comes back in 15 minutes, I am freezing, hungry and really exhausted)
OK, all your documents are valid. But, you have to go through a medical examination.
( My body is alerted)
Can you please tell me what does that means?
Well, usually it’s a thorough examination, can include gynaecological check, X-Ray…
But, I am pregnant.
Well, the doctor will know.
( She leads me towards a back room, I am considering what shall I do, my brain is slow)
Oh, they are closed, they work only till 10 pm. Well, next time then.
( She leaves, I am standing in front of the closed office, speechless, was all of this necessary? )

Borderlinking failure ( Valid until 30 June 2010 – Day 101- Day 98)

•March 30, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Brach Ettinger writes: “Failure is the measure of what has been recognized.” We have to ask constantly ourselves about the historical losses, the ones that are transmitted to us without knowing, at a level where we cannot hope to piece it together,where we are left in pieces, that might be linked together in some way, but not fully bonded. This is what Bracha describes as borderlinking, and it is in her view, a psychic landscape, the very site in which the present emerges, from the scattered and animated remains of continuing, though not continuous, trauma. ( Butler 2006, p. viii).

Living between two worlds can be demanding. Like an illness, you can’t escape from it, it is so deep in your body. It goes over every border that protects you from outside. You can articulate yourself on the screen, but deep inside you know that the screen never articulates, only imposes form.

Delivery at gate.
There are two gates. One in. One out. And me in between.
“We miss you so much”. Her eyes get tearful.
I can’t deliver the news.
“Maybe we will stay.”
“Stay where?”
“I am not quite sure….”
I am thinking of my great grandfather. How do you deliver a loss?