Interdisciplinary art exchange meeting with nationwide initiatives and individual artists

Lightning blue sky over Berlin already as I leave the house at 8:15. I am happy to have booked the lake studios for the Artist LAB, with the beautiful garden and the Müggelsee within walking distance. In the S-Bahn it is quite hot with baby in the carrier on my belly. Already I get the first messages from my colleagues Saskia Oitmann, Jenny Haack and Raisa Kröger from the organizing team: “S-Bahn shuttle service due to technical problems.” Alright. “Which station are you stuck at? Who will make it on time? Have you already taken your children to the kindergarten and school?”. Opera singer and co-founder of the initiative “Bühnenmütter” Annika Mendrala and director and performer Liz Rech were also planning to leave Hamburg after dropping their kids off at daycare. And already we are in the middle of the topic.

Work in relation to art and parenthood.

This LAB is the first out of four gatherings.Through the meetings, the Ag Dance and Parenthood invites to exchange on two central questions:

  • What (artistic) perspectives do dance artists in parenthood develop during the pandemic?
  • How can central structures (funding, theaters, venues for training and residencies) in the dance scene be made more accessible to them and new networks be established?

In the first meeting, in addition to the opera and performance sections, the writers Sybilla Vričić and Katharina Bendixen from the initiative “other writers need to concentrate” join in. After getting to know each other, visual artist Rani Le Prince kicks off with an impulse lecture on her drawings and sketches, in which choreographies by Indian dancer Padmini Chettur (contemporary versions of Bharatanatyam dance) found their way onto paper. “Our children always with us in the rehearsal room,” as Rani Le Prince tells us. Teresa Monfared presents the initiative “Art and Child” (Kunst und Kind) and the trailer of the project “Divinity meets Punk” – a performance with highly pregnant dancers. Franziska Burkhard, who travelled from Erfurt, highlights motherhood from the perspective of “regretting” and talks about how her personal experiences of transformation into a mother inspired her PHD Thesis.

Annika Mendrala, who co-founded the “stage mothers” initiative (Bühnenmütter e.V. , tells of female artists who, in a qualitative survey, report discrimination, non-renewed fee contracts, and assaultive comments on the aesthetic issues of age and changing bellies after pregnancy. In the estimation of Katharina Bendixen and Sybilla Vričić, it is not very different in the artistic field of literature, though perhaps not quite as directly stated: having a child is an obstacle to an artistic career. With two children, an artistic career is hardly possible anymore. At least for women – mothers.

Liz Rech closes the round with insights into her performative and activist works on parenthood, including the research project “the sky above me” in which she documents and artistically reworks her artistic practice during the pandemic.

One gets a nice impression of how versatilely inspiring parenthood, at today’s meeting especially motherhood, can be for one’s own artistic practice, and how difficult it is to reconcile both under current conditions.

We later discuss why the term “mother” has a connotation especially in the art field and collect artistic practices that artists have developed in parenthood during the pandemic that has already lasted 2 years. We analyze what has worked, point out boundaries and barriers. Asking what artistic learning practices lend themselves to a post-pandemic future and how the pandemic has affected contact with audiences, what models have been found to maintain dialogue with audiences?

There is a great desire to understand the issue of parenthood in the arts as a question for society as a whole. Concrete concerns, proposals and ideas, also to (cultural) politics, are to be formulated from the results. We agree that structural problems lead to barriers, especially for mothers working in the arts, as they are disproportionately confronted with the reconciliation of work and parenthood. At the same time, the role conflicts around parenthood and motherhood open up an interesting field of tension for art production.

Invited Artists:

Invited Artists (Interviews):

Artists involved from Ag Dance and Parenthood: