The Archives of Care

curated by Anne Dubos

The journey of a young mother

I am an anthropologist, a visual artist and, a young mother of twins. During confinement, in the national press (Libération, release of May 5, 2021) I published this testimony :

I gave birth ten days ago to twins, two months prematurely. I am still in the maternity ward. Their father doesn’t have the right to visit me. He doesn’t know his children yet. He doesn’t know anything about their smell, their skin, their personality. And when he meets them, they will have already changed a lot from the first moment I saw them. The most amazing thing for me is not having shared the joy of the birth. For ten days, I have only been touched by gloved hands. I see only an army of masked faces. How long has it been since someone smiled at me? Or perhaps they smile at me, but behind a mask. I miss smiles like a newborn can. Often I am thinking of women who gave birth alone, rejoice alone, despair alone, on this island called lockdown. »

After I got back home, I pursued my isolated  life as a young mother throughout the pandemic year as we moved to Romania, who was then unknown to me. Drowned by the intensity of everyday life with two infants, I have gathered a catalogue of care gestures that I wish to share in these terms: If time is a currency, what is the value of a mother’s care? I started counting every task a mother has to do in a house in terms of minutes. I will then break down all these care gestures, according to a gesture analysis protocol on which I work as a choreographer. Finally, I intend to map the actions and activities carried out inside and outside the household, in order to compare the weight (and time) given to personal care gestures compared to family care actions, by young mothers.

The archives of Care, Anne Dubos, 2022

I will propose here:

  • a reading of Joan’s Tronto’s definition of Care
  • a room to show gestures of care such as techniques of the feminine body through ages, spaces and cultures
  • a protocol for gesture analysis, in order to be able to name, describe, perform and augment gestures of Care, such as a remedy for care-lessness.
  • a generation of scores, for the use of young mothers.

In addition to being a place of exhibition of images and protocols of reflection, this room should be an open place for discussion. I will animate a zoom seminar on the question of gestures of Care, with/by/for young mothers, and anyone who would like to join and try to answer this fundamental question: what does it take (a mother) to Care (for an infant)? [upcoming dates]