Pleasure in Slowness

Performance with Helen Battelley, Mailbox Intervention Festival, B’ham, (2004)

Devised for the site of the shopping arcade, two mothers move around it in a pantomime of speed and slowness. It is a parody of the pressures of time relating to the role-play and masquerade of mothering, in reference to Walter Benjamin’s Arcades project and his critique of men’s speed and movement in modern day life. How much more problematic is time, in relation to speed and slowness, for mothers. They are alternately rushed off their feet with responsibilities and care, or bored by slow repetitive slavery. Much of the performance is a glamorous masquerade making fun of the possibility that mothers have time to take ‘pleasure in slowness’.

Carefully scored, an alarm clock rings every ten minutes, signalling a change of role from slowness to speed, accentuating the frantic clock watching life of women who mother. We alternatively performed dragging a 2-D husband around the shops, running whilst burdened with children’s balloons and bags, walking a tortoise, sitting in a shop, and changing outfits every ten minutes in different shops in the shopping centre.

The sudden alternation between frantic and quiet emphasized the lack of opportunities for mothers to reflect, or enjoy stillness and contemplation. Poking fun at societal expectations of mothers, the juxtaposed roles parodied the idea of the flaneur, the male wanderer who has time to romantically wander the streets, and fix his male gaze on Modernity. Mothers really haven’t got time (or Subjectivity).