The only time I ever took a pregnancy test I was eighteen years old and living with my boyfriend in a stranger’s apartment in Prague. We spent the days wandering and the nights drinking quietly, not knowing what or how to cook.
I curl into the kitchen windowsill smoking what might be my last cigarette, and silently contemplate this bleak fate. He slouches on the bed twirling the butterfly knife bought that afternoon despite my un-nuanced anti-violence politics. Or maybe I just couldn’t support violence for the sake of masculine amusement.
The kitchen table is draped in pink blossoming polyester flowers and the fridge is mostly empty. I swallow, and clutch to the unfinished sketches of my life, slipping. It is a small kitchen, badly lit and the night sky drops away from my body.
On a walk with mother, she told me that having children doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. They did a study, she told me. On happiness. Together we unravelled the assumed inevitability that one day, you’ll see, it will just happen. Bam. Motherhood. And eventually you’ll even learn to like it.
Still I shrink away from the word, hold close and fast to the solitude, the silence, the ability to switch apartments seven times in four years.
Even without the study, her words sucked me out of the story. At least far enough away to bring it into focus. Socialization never amounted to fate in any mystical sense of the word. My anatomy does not presume that I was made for this, and mothering, just like any other job, must be knowingly consented to.
There I was: eighteen, tender and bitter with my un-nuanced anti-violence politics, licking childhood wounds and refusing fate. That small pink bar. I taped it to the wall along with the blossoming table cloth.
word by Alisha Mascarenhas
“I thought about all of the babies in strollers I’ve walked past this week, and about the persistent disjuncture that often presents itself between what we need and what we are told that we need. I thought of how socialization of femininity is made real through direct transmission from those who impress upon our minds most legibly, and how necessary that there are alternative narratives offered to us in these moments. I thought of the economics behind the inevitability of motherhood, and the threatening possibilities that can surface when what appears fated is pulled apart, set aside and seen through.”
colour by Fannie Gadouas
“I am an interdisciplinary artist working with photography, fiber arts and performance. My work explores issues pertaining to feminine, identity and experience. By re-appropriating various traditional imagery, techniques and rituals, I question and challenge the way gendered identity is constructed, inherited and perceived in western society. Textiles is, and has traditionally been associated with the feminine realm. Critically engaging with techniques such as weaving, knitting and embroidery allows me to subvert and question my own role as both woman and artist. In this sense, my practice as a whole becomes a performance in which the process holds more relevance than the resulting objects. Informed and greatly influenced by feminist theory, the work I produce is a critical response to the social structure of western society.”