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. This performance produces visibility for women in public spaces yet is also part 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…

The sudden alternation between frantic and quiet emphasises the lack of opportunities for mothers to reflect, and enjoy stillness and contemplation. Poking fun at societal expectations of mothers and creating presence for women in public spaces, the performance parodies the idea of the flaneur. Mothers really haven’t got time to romantically wander the streets, wondering what life is all about.