Vela Phelan, Shadow Initiation Spell, Harbor Gallery, UMass Boston, 2012. Image credit: Alice Vogler

Total Art Journal CALL FOR PAPERS: Deadline: March 15th, 2014

The Maternal Turn: Contemporary Performance and Maternal Aesthetics

Guest editors Myrel Chernick and Jennie Klein

What does it mean to perform maternity? What is a maternal aesthetic, and how might it be expressed through imagery and actions? For this issue of Total Art, we are seeking submissions on contemporary performances of the maternal. Inspired by Nicholas Bourriaud’s idea of relational aesthetics and Claire Bishop’s notion of the social turn in contemporary art, we are interested in work that engages others through relations that are affective and “maternal,” even when not performed by a mother for her biological child. Topics that are of particular interest to us include the following:

  • Maternity and collaboration

  • Maternity, collectivism and social relations

  • The historical performance of maternity.

  • The performance of maternity and the maternal body

  • The performance of biological and non-biological maternity, including non-normate maternity, adoptive mothers, infertility, and the performance of motherhood

  • The ethical implications of working with children

  • Mothers who collaborate with their children.

  • What it means to be a mother and an artist today

Submissions are due March 15th, 2014. Please send submissions to


TOTAL ART is a peer-reviewed journal that seeks to establish a dynamic forum for interdisciplinary discourse grounded in the arts.  We are committed to nurturing new ways of understanding and interrogating work that crosses the practice-theory lines endemic to traditional academic and artistic worlds.

The journal takes its name from Alan Kaprow’s 1958 essay, “Notes on the Creation of a Total Art,” and sees performance, understood as a broad category of analysis, as central to the post-disciplinarity at stake in the concept of a Kaprowian “Total Art.”  Grounded in local attention, performance here names an approach rather than a discrete artistic practice – an approach that brings with it new ways of doing work at the intersections of art/life, theory/practice, and academia/activism.

Total Art journal issues are built around special-edited thematic clusters and invited contributions. Each is edited by one or several members of the editorial collective or by invited external editors working in consultation with the editorial collective.