Martina Mullaney - Usually She Is Disappointed
The exhibition Usually she is disappointed by an Irish artist Martina Mullaney borrows its title from the radical feminist manifesto, Dialectic of Sex, by Shulamith Firestone. By means of low-res photographs it looks at motherhood, feminism, politics, and the world of work after children. In this series, Martina Mullaney adopted a ‘kitchen table’ aesthetic. She re-photographed and appropriated images from academic books, borrowed images from her Facebook feed and other Facebook users, all mothers. The exhibition is a selection from more than 200 images and concentrates on the figure of the Missing Mother in the (art)world.
Martina Mullaney sees continuity between her life and work as natural, producing performance pieces that embody the personal-political maxim of the feminist movement. She seeks to critique the forced invisibility of mothers devising solidarity as a practical tool of resistance. This performative technique can take the form of live actions, discussions or the dissemination of images produced by marginalised maternal subjects. Using social media helped Mullaney to further disseminate critique of the neoliberal system that renders care associated with motherhood and (art) career mutually exclusive.
The impact of this exclusion can be seen when we look at the careers of many women artists. After having children, they usually disappear from the scene for a few years. That is also why they often postpone motherhood and wait for the right moment to start a family. In case of many British women artists living in London, this is further compounded by high living costs. Sometimes artists have to choose between art careers and family life.
About the Artist:
In 2009, Martina Mullaney initiated an art/life project titled Enemies of Good Art – the title is borrowed from the infamous quote by a British writer Cyril Connolly who in 1938 stated that “There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall”. Inspired by her maternal experience that made her a temporary outcast from the art community, Mullaney started an activist platform that soon spanned to include actions in galleries, discussions (where children are welcome), and interviews regarding art and motherhood. These activities – most of them published online – strived to instigate a change of approach on the part of the British art institutions toward children and to stop the discrimination of parents and especially mothers within the art world.
The exhibition is organised as part of Fotograf Festival #8.