Maggie Nelson’s critical success The Argonauts (2015) gave way for queer theory to re- turn toward the maternal body. How does pregnancy queer the body; become a queering of normativity? Can we disentangle pregnancy from being a marker of womanhood? Having children is often read and presented in popular culture as a cis-normative act that reproduces (the performance of) heterosexual kinship structures. Having children does neither of these things in The Argonauts. The series Prurient Maternal, in conversation with The Argonauts, attempts to ask the aforementioned questions with images, text, and performance.
In the battle to re-orient misogynist, racist and patriarchal discourses around the woman’s maternal body we have obfuscated its sexual potential. Prurient Maternal foregrounds the sexual and queer potential on my terms like feminist self-imaging artists such as Carolee Schneemann and Hannah Wilke have done with their bodies. I also situate this work alongside Natalie Loveless’s three-year scholarly and artistic project, Maternal Ecologies (2010-2013). Like Loveless (2014) argues for her work, Prurient Maternal is also a “conception of mothering as an affective, social, cultural, and material thinking-practice at odds with conceptions of motherhood that see it as a training relation organized around the social good”.