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The Mother of Rabbits

The Mother of Rabbits, 2006
Duration: 20:00
live performance


Perfomed at Gallery Aferro: November 17, 2006

This piece talks about my inherent need and desire to become a mother, using my childhood experience of raising rabbits as a metaphor.  In this performance I project various images of myself as a child onto me.  I describe the innocence of this naive mothering that takes a confusing and horrific turn when I learn the truth about how babies are made. 

Excerpt: Most of the time, these animals were strangely quiet and calm.  To hear them cry was highly unusual and only happened if one of them escaped.  Our daschund would tirelessly chase the poor rabbit all around the neighborhood.  I ran with them, trying to catch my estranged animal.  Sometimes they would become too tired...and would run no more.  The dog would approach it and sniff and nudge the shivering and panicked rabbit...sometimes they would lie perfectly still and silent...other times they would begin to scream.  Their mouths would be opened wide and a shriek came from within their tiny bodies that was unforgettable.  Its high pitched tone was so shrill and loud...and oddly human, like the scream of someone who is dying...or someone who is giving birth...

But a rabbit would never cry when she delivered...when her time came, she worked diligently, gathering hay and pulling hair from her body to make a comfortable nest for the young.  At some point in the night, the mother would be hunched forward, with her nose buried deep beneath her hind legs as she gave birth to her young.  She would chew through the umbilical cord and eat her placenta, then lick the babies until they were clean.  But this was all a great mystery to me at the time.  What I remember most, is running outside the next day to discover the babies.  I reached my hand inside their box to feel the nest of soft and fluid bodies that were warm and bulbous.  They wiggled around as I touched them.  I remember what it felt like to discover a corpse among the litter.  It was always shocking to feel such coldness, right there next to such vibrancy and life.  I would remove the dead baby and bury it in our yard.  I made a cross from two branches that I found, plunged it into the ground, and said a prayer.