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Orla Mc Hardy

‘C: Maintenance is a drag: it takes all the fucking time’ 

(Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Manifesto for Maintenance Art, Proposal for an exhibition “CARE”, 1969)

‘C: Maintenance Animation is a drag: it takes all the fucking time’ 

(my own edit, 2021)

Animation and motherhood are parallel acts. There are striking overlaps between animation practices and the maternal time of maintenance and caregiving: repetitive acts and gestures, interruption, incremental and elongated time, cycles, the embodied experience of slow mundane practices, the durational drag of staying alongside something or someone. The stuck, pooled time of caregiving and maintenance, and the pooled time of animation production have a lot in common. In both instances “what is hidden, however, is not just labour but the time embedded within this labour.” With my doctoral research, I want to pull apart some of the ways that an expanded animation practice-as-research shows how animation’s formal self-reflexiveness and media specific histories can start to reveal where value is placed (and not placed) on the time of their shared invisible labours. Possibilities emerge from thinking these invisible labours together, revealing the problematics of what constitutes a rightful subject or object of mothering, and what can be said to constitute narrative and animation, and where qualities of value are placed on time. 

The following questions will be at the core of my doctoral thesis research:

In paying close attention to what is specific to maternal time and why this time matters, I move to uncouple maternity and femininity,  interpreting the maternal in the broadest sense. This opens the maternal to include any act of ongoing caregiving and maintenance, of staying alongside another, whether “that is of their birth, adopted, fostered, community, surrogate or ‘other’ children.” If we take this ‘other’ child that we are to care for as non-human, a project, an ecology, a system, how can close attention to the time of maternal care reveal possibilities about thinking and living in more-than-human-worlds? And how can an expanded lens of animation mirror this expanded understanding of ‘mothering’ and that which is ‘mothered’?


Lisa Baraitser, Enduring Time, Bloomsbury,  London and New York, 2017. 49

Lisa Baraitser. Maternal Encounters: The Ethics of Interruption, Routledge, London and New York, 2009, 10

Maria Puig de la Bellacasa. Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds, University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota, 2017



KuvA research activities

This blog highlights the activities of the research unit and doctoral programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki | Tämä blogi esittelee Kuvataideakatemian tutkimusyksikön ja tohtorikoulutusohjelman tapahtumia ja toimintaa | I den här bloggen presenteras verksamheten och evenemangen vid Bildkonstsakademins forskningsenhet och doktorandprogram

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