Following on from the chalkboard drawings and text interventions produced as part of the talk “Parenting in the Art World” [Nov 23rd] within the group show, Re-Raising Consciousness (curated by Fayen De’Evie, Harriet Morgan and Katherine Hattam at TCB Artinc) [Nov 2014]: ‘Parenting is Political’ re-presents artworks and texts that foreground perceptions of parenting in modern day life, such as institutional wellbeing, the rights of the child and being raised a political subject. The small exhibition held at Bus Projects, 31 Rokeby St, Collingwood, Melbourne (February 3rd to 20th, 2016) and this additional online platform continues a dialogue of parenting, its politics and frameworks.

Parenting is Political

This is a knowledge you’re forced into

It’s not a soft knowledge, but a forced knowing...

My intention for this show and online platform is to reduce the perception of parenting as purely child rearing. (I always found this definition to be so exclusive.) I want to include a discourse which addresses parenting's slippages outside of the family unit - to include other tensions that exist within parenting's stem concept: that of a caring relationship. These include notions of care-as-labour, relational responsibility, and the evaluation and economics of this type of interaction. As such, the parenting to which I am referring to here is not confined only to the notion of childhood development, it is also the raising of the elderly, the infirm, the animal, the student, the teacher, the plant, community and corporate offspring and the selection of economies, disciplines and resources that support it. In so doing I am made aware of how social forces competing (for growth and attention) may encourage the authoritarian — power of the parental.

In order to dig deeper into such a nuanced subject, I am providing an additional online platform, which is informed by my own investigations and those of the other artists I have invited to participate. My own research has been amplified/broadened by the contribution of these artists, who present their own expanded interpretations of the concept of parenting. I am grateful for my exposure to these varied ties and tensions.

I thank Aurelia Guo for her poetic communiqué (with herself and others) delivered through her text ‘nature­isnot­natural­and­can­never­be­natura­lised.pdf’ (2016); Anastasia Klose for her jarring exposé into capitalism and the dynamics of a family education in ‘Together’ (2011); Peter Tyndall’s building of perceptual frameworks through his graphic, a family’s visit to the gallery; and Angela Brennan for her painting, which represents her speech and radical parenting style — to ‘just be’.

My own, in-gallery research (presented at Bus Projects — Melbourne) includes a series of chalkboards and hand held collages, which have defined parenting’s politics under six key themes: 1) Fear 2) Governance/Surveillance 3) Sibling/Social Conflict 4) The inexplicable family unit 5) Aesthetics, Form, Beauty 6) Education.

I would like to thank Žiga Testen and Robert Janes for their talent and contribution to this exhibition as they construct the online platform, which is in on-going dialogue with this show, and Mel Deerson for her continued support and writing assistance.

Kym Maxwell

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