Ruth Barker

And The Three Mothers Ask: Don't You Know Me?

2011
Macintosh Museum, Glasgow
Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers Three Mothers

Performance: Running Time 15 minutes approx. Garment design and production by Lesley Hepburn.

The text was memorised, and recited as a spoken word performance by the artist.

Photography by Janet Wilson, courtesy the artist and The Glasgow School of Art.

From the Glasgow School of Art website:

 

As part of The Erratics, an exhibition by Lotte Glob, with Nick Evans and Ruth Barker in the Mackintosh Museum, Barker will perform And The Three Mothers Ask: Don't You Know Me?

Barker's performance finds resonances between Glob's ceramics and artefacts encountered through the Centre for Indisciplinary Artefact Studies (CIAS) at Newcastle University where the artist has been in residence during 2010/11.

Specifically, the new work And The Three Mothers Ask: Don't You Know Me? (2011) has emerged from a re-imagining of Romano-British sculptural artefacts depicting the 'Deae Matres'; narratively ambigious domestic deities often represented in triplicate, and "distinguished by being depictions of women either nursing infants or holding baskets of fruit, loaves, or other fertility symbols such as fish." (Miranda Green, The Gods of Roman Britain, Shire Archaeology 2003).

The performance consists of a poetic text, written by Barker, which will be recited by the artist three times within the exhibition space. The work re-suggests the Deae Matres as contemporary phenomona, translating their attributes into vivid, current, images that place locate the artist's gesture simultaneously in registers both present and ancient.

In a recurring refrain the artist refers to the audience as being 'Forwarned in a dream;' a reference both to a commonly translated Romano-British phrase referring to individuals 'contacted' by deities, and to the experience of the audience themselves who, it is suggested, may have previouly missed the Deae Matres' demands for recognition.

The performance features a new bespoke garment designed by Lesley Hepburn.

 

 



And The Three Mothers Ask: Don’t You Know Me?

(repeated 3 times, in different registers, at points around the room.)

 

 

I know you.

I know all of you.

I believe I’ve met you all before – don’t you know me?

 

O, a song of greeting,

Song of almost recognition,

Song of comfort and combustion and

Some half remembered things

That I can give to you,

These things I gift to you – don’t you know me?

 

 

O You were forwarned in a dream

O, the dream you had

In the Holiday Inn

The time you overslept.

I was there.

Don’t you know me?

 

O You were forwarned in a dream

O, the dream you had

The night your son left home

It was October

I was there.

Don’t you know me?

 

O You were forwarned in a dream

O, the dream you had

When your eyes closed on the Metro.

It was only for a moment

I was there.

Don’t you know me?

 

O You were forwarned in a dream

O, the dream you had

In the hospital

When the lights stayed on all night.

I was there.

Don’t you know me?

 

 

O don’t you know me?

No No No No No,

You don’t know me

Do you?

 

 

I’m running water

I’m falling water

I’m touching water

I’m touching ripe fruit

I’m touching cut grass

I’m touching new corn

I’m touching baked bread

I’m touching nursing

I’m touching low like a fish

I’m touching soft like a belly

Touching round like sanctuary

Touching upright, on a wicker chair

I’m holding something in my hand. Right now.

 

I am your mother. I am braided and strong.

I am your mother’s mother. I am braided and strong.

I am the always, ever mother. I am braided and strong.

I am the mother of your children. I am braided and strong.

I am only a song, and I am braided. I am braided, and I am strong

 

So cut the crusts off your Hovis today.

Put your feet into the water today.

Pour the milk onto your cereal today.

Eat your little pre-rolled sushi today.

And lie down in your bath

With your Radox

Reading your new magazine

It is good, and the pages are glossy...

 

So now you know.

You were forwarned in a dream.

 

I think you owe me.

Don’t you think you know me, now?