Once a guy said that there was no worse enemy of good art than a pram in the hallway. That man had obviously not reflected much in life and of course he ignored the mental mechanisms of his own prejudices. Because, with very little thinking, one realises that the pram is just a symbol. To be more precise he should have said he didn’t like children, or mothers, or both. That he found them incompatible with good art.
One has to be a sap. Without children, in a pram or without, there is no humanity. To say that something as important as the destiny of humanity is incompatible with art is absurd. It only serves the purpose of showing the narrowmindedness of the person that says it, and their ignorance. Unfortunately, however, such stupidity is not anecdotal. Why is there an opinion that maternity and childhood are at odds with serious subjects? Is there anything more serious than the continuation of the species? Why do these men (because they are usually men) don’t like children? I am not saying that an annoying child is a desirable company in an art gallery, nor in any place. But it is because the child is annoying that it is not desirable, not because of being a child. The same with adults, some are unbearable and some are magnificent.
Sometimes, reading some of those important philosophers who define our cultural trajectory, I have thought that it was very obvious in their theories that they had a maid. Because if they had been self-sufficient they would have understood much more about the basic things of life and wouldn’t have formulated such limping theories. Now I understand how much such badly structured theories importune us. They create a false base that allow a man to shiver with artistic grandeur before a painting of a virgin with her chubby christ (after all a picture of a mother with her baby) and at the same time despise real mothers and babies. And stay perfectly calm.
Contradiction is human, I know. I would even say it is one of our most interesting facets. And I practice it often. But advisedly. To ignore that we are contradicting ourselves is simply to not know what we are talking about. We can’t reflect on the profound and important without first thinking about the essential: the instincts of preservation and reproduction. With all the participants in all their stages. From there we can build the rest.
Enemies of good art is a group of artists, curators and related who discuss the artistic invisibility and other complications derived of being artists and being mothers. I’ve just been to their meeting. We talk about subjects that have been a problem for long, but won’t always be. The arts world can’t afford to leave so much talent out. Because, paraphrasing the Guerrilla Girls: when racism and sexism are no longer fashionable, how much will your collection be worth?
Illustration: “Mum, I want the period too”, from the Feminist gooseneck barnacles series.