It was in the Mobile Menu of the project initiative stay hungry, where I first heard about the Trobriand Islands and their inhabitants in whose societies it is traditionally frowned upon to show hunger, to enjoy food or to spend a long time eating. In the West, however, it is considered particularly admirable to eat with pleasure and at the same time discipline a measure. I know that some people think I cannot measure, I cannot control my hunger.
This is what fertility looks like: fat thighs, fat hips, fat ass – my waist-to-hip ratio is 0.64 which means my hips are almost twice as wide as my waist, and that seems to be a signal to the world: A baby has to go in there. But I decided against becoming a mother.
When I discovered I had become pregnant despite the IUD, I was advised by the doctor to go to an emergency unit to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. I hurried to the Virchow-Klinikum in Wedding which was built around 1900 in a pavilion construction. At night, between the brightly lit entrances, I felt alone, but in past times the architecture met the need for autonomy of the head physicians. (1)
Autonomy, self-determination and agency. For many years, these words sounded unconditionally positive to me. The same can be said about the term empowerment. But is self-empowerment anything other than a form of lust for domination? Mastering the self is the opposite of the idea of an uncontrolled, insatiable self and yet they coexist in unison: In the neoliberal urge of recognition, the hunger for self-realisation or, what is even more perfidious: In the hope of affecting social conditions.
When I sent a questionnaire on accessibility to the 29 project initiatives, I received nine answers. The first replies that returned were from the queer-feminist project initiatives run by women*. I remember how it didn’t come as a surprise to me that these initiatives had responded with extra care. The staff I met in the emergency room was exclusively female. They worked quietly, they worked at night.
Even if our life experiences are very different, I know how to do work that nobody sees, helping until early in the morning; willing to (re-)create. I haven’t become a mother and yet I am remaining a part of an entangled gender/society condition in which helping and creating voluntary dependency relationships continues to be considered feminine and therefore inferior.
Therefore, apart from empowerment, the struggle for power for the cause of power itself, I also propose to think of the moments of (self-)disempowerment in order to think new rules beyond a society structured by power relations. For me, refusing maternity does not mean not understanding myself as part of a network of relationships or not allowing dependencies; It just means making a conscious choice for specific interdependencies. For the 29 project spaces that participated in the Project Space Festival Berlin this year, it may have meant allowing non-sovereignty by leaving one’s own territory– against a need for autonomy and in the sense of staying hungry.
(1) Wikipediaentry on Pavilion Style: Characteristics and Background.
Stephan Zandt, Yams, aesthetics of food and the ideal of a fulfilled life or: How to solve the problem of appetite, lecture at Mobile Menu #09 – Digestive Matters, 2019, Weichselplatz, Berlin Neukölln, conceived by the nomadic project space stay hungry.
COVEN Berlin's event for PSF Berlin 2019: PROBAND-WERDEN. Photo: Billie Sara Clarken.
A view on the playground of Virchow Hospital's gynocological pavillon.
Amelie Jakubek is an artist and organizer with a background in fine arts and sociology. She uses artistic and non-artistic means to understand the relationships between single persons and collective (hi)stories, structures and behaviors. She has worked in collectives, education, art world institutions, publishing and with cinematic expressions. For the PSF 2019 she is collaborating with the Kreuzberg Pavillon on coordinating whatever needs to be done.