Residency by Katya Ev at Kunsthal Gent
Human milk is a highly gendered bodily “product” that can be consumed, given away or sold. The very concept of milk is, as a primary food, the paradigm of purity, gift and innocence. However, milk is particular in that, unlike other foods, it is also a form of body labor. Breastfeeding and milk pumping are generally invisibilized (if not impossible) gestures in the public sphere and in professional contexts. At the same time, lactation is advocated in European countries as a moral requirement and a strong social norm.
The idea of ‘lactation’ is most commonly associated with breast-feeding whereas ‘milk expression’ – removing the milk manually or with a machine – remains hidden and surrounded by an even stronger taboo although pumping milk is actually absolutely essential to successful lactation and very commonly used by mothers.
At Kunsthal Gent, Ev and her artistic team will work on the social and ethical questions that surround the theme of lactation.