m_othering the perceptual ars poetica

Counihan Gallery
233 Sydney Road, Brunswick
August 30 - September 29


Olga Bennett, Simona Castricum, Bonita Ely, Abbra Kotlarczyk, Alice McIntosh, Josephine Mead, Ruth O’Leary, Lucreccia Quintanilla,
r e a, Katie Ryan, Antonia Sellbach and Amber Wallis.

Curated by Abbra Kotlarczyk and Antonia Sellbach. Text contributions by Jazz Money and Guest, Riggs.


Book of Spit & Thorax: Age Old Breath Freshener (Cool Mint)

    My unmoored mothering           occupies a lateral geography, where hormones pass between us; where the integer between teeth shouts out above flesh and blood that isn’t there, between us.

    “Birth begins the process of learning to be separate”—John Berger. In the case of being a non-birth mother, learning to separate from the baby is simultaneously about finding ways to come closer together in the absence of an initial physical intimacy. Recently my daughter started rubbing her spit on my body (a mimetic act which later became clear was inspired by the licking and grooming depicted in The Lion King). While the physical act of a child rubbing their spit on you is initially unsettling—with the impulse being to separate even further—I started to frame her rubbings as a radical act of care that enabled her distinct DNA traces to commingle with my own. Through this work—a continuation of my artistic practice that situates the body as a form of expanded publication—I situate my daughter within a long line of feminist forms of revolt and vulnerabilty, from Carla Lonzi’s Let’s Spit On Hegel (1977) to Cecilia Vicuña’s Spit Temple (2012), among others.

cuneilinguafranca: desire contracts around the contract of care where the m_other tongue is a pin

    ‘Cuneilinguafranca’ denotes a play on words—a discombobulation of the tongue that refers to the early Sumerian form of writing known as cuneiform (‘cuneus’ meaning ‘wedge shaped’); cunelingus (oral sex specific to female genitalia, performed by the tongue); and lingua franca (a language that is adopted as a common language between speakers whose native languages are different). By impressing the cuneiform symbol for ‘ma’ into the surface of the wedge-shaped pin head, a neutral maternal status is proposed via the infant’s pre-linguistic speech. Elsewhere a distinction is made through the framing of the tongue as a (queer) reproductive organ—both in its passing down of familial language and in its performative and instrumental role in aiding the physical conception of a child, where the wedge of a pillow is also used as a physical support to assist conception.

a semi c: open semantics of touch
hand-poked Fawn Stonehenge paper • dowel
dimensions variable

cuneilinguafranca: desire contracts around the contract of care where the m_other tongue is a pin
hand pressed polymer clay • pins
dimensions variable
unique edition of 20

Book of Spit & Thorax: Age Old Breath Freshener (Cool Mint)
drawing paper • dental floss • utility chord • coloured pen • victorian ash timber • polymer clay • magnets
76cm x 76cm x 2cm

Images by Christo Crocker, 2019.