Trish Morrissey (UK, Bristol)
Ave Maria Karaoke (2010)
In Ave Maria Karaoke, I sing the Ave Maria hymn into an imaginary microphone in the style of a drunken woman performing a torch song. It was shortly before I gave birth to my son. The garland of lights is reminiscent of the holy grottos that housed statues of the Virgin Mary of my childhood.
Excruciating to watch, the performance is both comic and grotesque. The sheer white shirt that barely conceals the enormous bulge, and the threat of what is inside bursting forth, makes the viewer fearfully aware of the thin boundary between nature and culture. It speaks to our fear of this boundary being crossed and the abject nature of the insides coming outside by this primal loss of control. The clash between the horror of this potential and the ludicrous nature of the performance blurs the distinction between laughing at and laughing with the subject.
In her essay Stabat Mater, Julia Kristeva talks about the cult of motherhood, and refers to the pregnant Virgin Mary as being its purest manifestation. Motherhood is defined by self-denial and martyrdom. The ‘good’ mother ignores her own desires for the sake of her child’s. This film was my response to the never ending advice and instruction I received while pregnant. The media and the establishment as well as well-meaning relatives, friends, and even strangers on the street seemed to have an opinion on how I should behave, for the good of my foetus. The pregnant body becomes public property.
Trish Morrissey’s work has received numerous awards, is exhibited in the UK, EU, Asia, Australia and USA, and is held in major collections including the V&A, London.