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The art of Mothering

by Archives January 13, 2009

Even as performer and writer Moynan King sat down to give this interview, she still had a whole load of flannel pyjamas to sew in time for Mothering, her performance piece/art installation that opens this week.
She’s making those comfy PJs for you. Everyone – passing onlookers included – is invited for a free, relaxing evening of board games, cocoa and storytelling at gallery articule.
King and her cohorts, Nathalie Claude and Paul-Patrick Charbonneau, will be posing as mother figures welcoming guests and coaxing them to put on slippers, cosy up in pyjamas on a big comfy bed, and let themselves be mothered.
“It’s like a visual art piece waiting for you to walk into it,” said King.
The action will take place in an apartment setting, the view from outside forming an enticing live tableau for those walking by in the cold.
Why a cozy sleepover as art? Violence is said to be the element needed to engage theatregoers, but King argues we have became dulled to it. She argues kindness grabs people’s attention today. Mothering at an intimate slumber party fits the bill.
This sleepover-style installation also blurs the line between audience and performance, as visitors interact with performers and become a part of the piece’s storyline. Some of Moynan’s previous works have been in a similar vein. Beauty Shop and Drop-In Clinic featured visitors getting pampered with whimsical treatments and undergoing bogus check-ups designed to delight and entertain.
Mothering is the next step in breaking down that barrier between performance and audience. Shy participants can get comfortable step-by-step: first by putting on slippers, then by having some cocoa, and so on.
The installation also allows visitors to perceive everyday activities, like the act of mothering, in a different light. In doing so, they realize the power of such mundane acts.
The installation’s aesthetic is out of the late 50’s and early 60’s, a period that perpetually intrigues King. It is a period from which came the image of an idyllic family life cared for by stay-at-home moms.
As for the piles of pyjamas, King sees sewing them herself not only as a getting into character of sorts, but also as a tribute to her own mother, a prolific maker of clothing for her children.
Everyone needs a little T.L.C. now and then. You might be nervous about school, or spending a lonely first year away from home. Could you still be recovering from your own chaotic family holiday get-together? Either way, if you need some lovin’, an art installation masquerading as a sleepover might be just the thing for you. If I could mother you myself, I’d have you go to Mothering. And if you asked why, it’s because I said so.

Mothering is a Studio 303 production at articule (262 Fairmount St. O.) that runs from Jan. 13-16, 4 to 10 p.m.

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