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Task 40 - Woman's work


Marie writes:

Your task this week will be concerned with the masculine/feminine, contingent circumstances and … your mam.

Feminine research

I do not subscribe to any polarisation of gender as a way to identify as a human being. However, the terminology of masculine/feminine seemed useful when some days ago we discussed how traditional academic research has certain features conventionally described as masculine. You referred in a tone of irony to the ‘penis of knowledge’: the researcher hones in on a subject of investigation with incisive research questions, ‘penetrates’ the topic, and achieves the consummation of specific and ‘final’ conclusions. Why shouldn’t research be undertaken in ‘vulval’ mode, in which concerns could be multiple and shifting, and in which knowledge emerges as a process of unfolding and joyous discovery?

Contingent circumstances

Driving home from Aarhus yesterday we discussed your recent book on The Battle of Algiers. I was inspired by how you explained that your book is trying to move away from moral judgement of the film – not evaluating it as ‘good or bad’, but instead treating it as ‘the only film that could be made’ under contingent circumstances. I feel this is an admirable approach to art: accepting it as the only possible outcome that could have happened in that moment, and being curious about the conditions, agencies and circumstances in place for the outcome to take this form.

I would like to think that Parameters & Practice is a ‘feminine research project’ that is slowly blossoming and finding form in a process of unfolding and doing so under ‘contingent circumstances’ where the actions of each task and response are a result of the conditions of that particular moment.

Your task

You will visit your mother, Marie, in your hometown of Cork this coming week as she has just been through a hip replacement operation. The act of caring and assisting has traditionally been seen as a female one, a job undertaken by women. This week your primary role will be to help your mam while she is recovering, and I would like you to make use of these circumstances to dwell with the subjects I have laid out above.

Your task is to create an output of either a series of photos or soundbites (perhaps even an interview, if possible), or both, that illustrates/documents the contingent circumstances of being in the same house as your mam for a week. How do you negotiate each other’s space, what conversations do you have, what type of care do you give? In this process I want you to think about and reflect on your interactions with your mam in light of the ‘feminine/masculine’ and whether your negotiation of space and your conversations can inform you further on this subject and whether/how this can be reflected in your output.

See Alan's response here.