DON’T MOTHER ME! A podcast series on reproduction by Sheena McGrandles

This series of podcasts brings together performers, scholars, art workers, health professionals, and activists who expand imaginaries around reproduction from the personal to the political. Under the title “Don’t mother me”, a myriad voices explore different dimensions of parenting following a chain of invitations from several angles of Sheena McGrandle’s affective and professional circles.
The episodes last between 30 and 40minutes and were conceived to be enjoyed as independent units that, as a whole, accompany and enrich some of the central themes of the auto fictional musical “DAWN”.

Read more about Sheena McGrandle’s musical “DAWN” here
Listen to the 8 episodes here


Podcast series: Don’t mother me! by Sheena McGrandles
Co-editor, content curation & texts in collaboration with Paz Ponce. 
Post-production by Qzeng Productions, Head of Audio Neda Sanai, Audio Assistant Ceclie Perrot.
Intro jingle by Colin Self.
Supported by the NATIONAL PERFORMANCE NETWORK – STEPPING OUT, funded by the Minister of State for Culture and Media within the framework of the initiative NEUSTART KULTUR. Assistance Program for Dance.
Link to the artist page:


Episode #1 “Mum Talk: Barnadette & Sheena McGrandles”

The first episode of this podcast series accompanying the auto-fictional musical “DAWN” delves into Sheena McGrandle’s own family history. In a rather confessional talk, her mother shares in retrospect her feelings surrounding the months that followed one Sunday in 1973, when a 17-year-old Bernadette informed her parents of a 7-month pregnancy. This story with a happy ending reveals in its wake the moral implications of the social stigma of an extra-marital pregnancy within a Catholic community in Northern Ireland. One more testimony that attests to the obscure role played by ecclesiastical institutions during the second half of the 20th century in the irregular management of adoptions through the Magdalene Laundries.

Episode #2 “Geopolitical imagining: hope in the pro choice movement in Brazil, Poland, Ireland – With Cristina Ribas, Anna Krenz, Pamela Condell”.

Often relinquished to the margin of the margin, the political debate on abortion continues to be governed by fear of loosing popularity in election polls, “becoming a tool to divide and conquer” (Poland). Or if it surfaces, it does so following a “violence adding to violence” logic where criminalization covers the debate (Brazil), failing to reframe it under the field of elective/sexual rights. Or if its succeeds, the pro-choice movement arises as “a purely grass roots initiative” (Ireland) supported by a legal framework that continues to differentiate women by class. Uncovering the patriarchal violence of society personified by the state, Cristina, Anna and Pamela fight to make this debate public from different personal and militant sides of the organization of the struggle and mobilization for abortion rights, voicing a triple call to be “safely wild”.

Cristina T. Ribas is an artist and researcher. She works with archives, feminisms, situated, academic and theatrical research. She participates in the study group Epistemologias Afetivas Feministas (EAF), the Red Indomesticables and the Frente por la Legalización del Aborto Frepla-RS (Rio Grande do Sul/Brazil). Co-organises the Arquivos táticos 

Anna Krenz is a Berlin-based artist, editor and activist. She studied architecture at the Poznan University of Technology/Energy and then Environment & Sustainable Design at the Architectural Association in London. Subjects of her art are social and political issues, gender, environment, stereotypes and religion. Since 2001 she has worked as a freelance creative for the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy in Denmark. Anna Krenz is the founder of the Berlin-based initiative Dziewuchy Dziewuchom (2016), a civil movement that supports Polish women internationally and actively campaigns for women’s or human rights in Poland, where Krenz also participates through artistic means. Dziewuchy Dziewuchom organised numerous demonstrations in Berlin, including the “Black Protest” on 3 October 2016 and the International Women’s Strike on 8 March 2017, 2022. 

Pamela Condell is an Irish photographer and exhibition-maker currently living in Dublin, Ireland. Pamela has completed projects for Diageo, Airbnb, PhotoIreland Festival, The Project Arts Centre, Crawford Gallery, National Sculpture Factory, Cork International Film Festival, Cork Midsummer Festival and Sirius Arts Centre, Cork, Ireland. She has published work online with Dazed & Confused and Vogue Italia. In 2010, Pamela co-founded Stag & Deer with Pádraig Spillane, showcasing Irish and International photographers and lens based practitioners inc. Viviane Sassen, Mariela Sancari, Karen Miranda Rivadeneira, Miriam O’ Connor, Roseanne Lynch and Zhang Kechun. 

Episode #3 “Mum talk: Sophia & Ruby Belasco-New”

An object-centered talk around a thawing placenta between a mother and her daughter 9 years after birth, reflects upon biology, rituals, materiality and corporeality in the video piece “The matter between you and me”. This domestic kitchen conversation is restaged in this podcast episode where Sheena McGrandles extends an invitation to the now teenager Ruby and her mum to reflect back at their growth process from this evanescent memory.

Sophia New (London, 1974) is a performer, theater writer and journalist based in Berlin, where she co-founded Plan B with her partner Dani Belasco Robers. She has been teaching mainly on MA SODA at the HZT, and Live Art and Performance with Siegmar Zacharias at Folkwang in Essen and Bochum. Sophia and Dani’s daughter, Ruby studies at Kindertanzcompany von Sasha Waltz & Guests. 

Episode #4 “Affective dimensions of reproductive labour: Daniela Bershan & Sadie Plant”

“Dani parenting is like this, you take a glass of water, you put a spoon of heaven inside, you put a spoon of hell inside, you mix it and you drink it”. This accurate description of what parenthood is for Daniela Bershan, leads a talk with Sadie Plant sharing practices and strategies they incorporate to their every day lives in order to deal with the ambivalent images and situations romanticizing/ demonizing the labor of reproduction. Every day life is framed here as a political dimension nourished by micro actions where creative work and motherhood happen. 

Daniela Bershan a.k.a. Baba Electronica is an artist, DJ and independent researcher studying practices of collective intimacy and care. She co-founded and directed FATFORM (NL) and is co-organizing with Valentina Desideri ELSEWHERE & OTHERWISE at Performing Arts Forum (FR). 

SADI PLANT studied philosophy at the University of Manchester, lectured at the University of Birmingham and was Research Fellow and Director of the Cybernetic Culture Research Unit (University of Warwick). She is the author of Zeros and Ones: Digital Women and the New Technoculture (1998) which offers an alternative feminist account of the history and nature of digital technology. 

Episode #5 “Parenting and sickness: hosted by Zinzi Buchanan with Laura Lulika & Melissandre Varin”

An experience in what can be quoted as a “crisis of care” brought Zizi to think “how is to facilitate life with all its failures, and to bring about so much possibility for loving without suffering at the cost of trying to take care”. For this episode she extended Sheena McGrandles’ invitation to artists and parents Laura and Melissandre, to share how they find ways to enact values such as activism and care in their every day lives, from experiences “facilitating the life of someone being denied access or not being valued due to systemic oppressions”. The importance of reparenting oneself, allowing oneself to be cared for, “accepting that care is an ongoing fluctuating process and a constant negotiation that requires you to be very present within the desires and needs in a room, reading a situation with your emotions and then, from a distance”, are some of the points supporting a parenting curve seen as a metamorphic durational performance in sickness and queer health.

zinzi buchanan is a non-binary artist working with dance, performance, facilitation and writing/poetry. In 2019 they completed an MA in Visual Cultures at Goldsmith’s University and have since focused on experiences of chronic pain/sickness and queer survival in their art-making, including a written piece called Loving On The Edge (2019), a friendship-based theatre performance called Rogue Intensities (2020) and a year long project called Sick Bed Series (2021).  

Laura Lulika likes to define herself as “a chronically sick and disabled queer artist, currently living in Leeds, UK”. Working predominantly with video, sound and performance, her practice explores themes of care, sexuality, labour, sickness, counterculture, dirt and performativity in the everyday: her work is driven by the rhythms, movement, and rituals within daily activity. She enjoys collaborating with others, looking at accessibility from various perspectives, and often works with her partner and primary carer, Hang Linton. She is an initiating member of the collective Sickness Affinity Group which has been active for five years. Currently she is doing an Arts Council England funded DYCP research project called, The Trogs. 

melissandre varin’s work emerges from relation, displacement, multiplicity, identity, interdependency, and language. Making from an Afro and Caribbean diasporic context, melissandre add layers of complexity using a situated Black feminism. Through poetic performance arts, moving image assemblages, and site-specific installations – among other things – melissandre interrogate how the encounter between bodies that have been marginalised, everyday materials, and institutional spaces transgresses normativity.  

Episode #6 “Parenting in other species: Georg Reinhardt & Paz Ponce”

Departing from the idea of “parenting as contextual art”, in this episode Georg Reinhardt guides us through the plasticity of parental behaviors in other species according to circumstances. In this ecological framework, the “good parent” animal could be one that feeds itself to its offspring and their lovers if there is a lack of resources (spiders). Or the male sea horse who does the care work feeding, while the female supports herself and makes her own life. Or the African striped mice where the community as a whole takes care of the individuals, growing up with the help of many (alloparenting). These strange phenomena highlight reproduction as a social practice answering to what is at the heart of a community, offering new care work perspectives beyond ideas of survival. Diversity renders biologically, yet he warns us about the dangers of finding examples in “nature” to support political ideals, while raising problematics around decisions that imply exploitative, self-sacrificial, mutualistic or parasitical behaviors. “Is a political decision to say “other species” and look at the kind of multitude with different interests and relations and not at one thing called nature”. 

Georg Reinhardt, born Georg Springer in Vienna (1972) is a trained gardener (Austria/England), architect (Vienna Academy of Fine Arts) and performer (Schauspiel Erfurt, Schauspiel Bochum). In 2022 he cofounded the artist group Club Real in Berlin, where he has worked on the conception and realization of more than 50 projects in Germany, Austria, Finland, Cuba, Poland, Spain and Bulgaria. Has been involved in organism policy together with Hannes Anbelang since 2017. Co-author of the Universal Declaration of Organismal Rights. 

Paz Ponce (Cádiz, 1985) is an art historian and works in Berlin as an “interdependent” curator, manager of art spaces & cultural networks between Europe and Latin America ( Her practice is articulated around the post studio: collaborative, processual, contextual, participatory, situated and designed from the point of view of its collective and community public reception. Since 2018 she works as dramaturg on Club Real projects, and in 2020 she co-founded an arts association and collective research space with Sheena McGrandles inside Uferstudios (neue häute e.V. / Ana Conda am Ufer). 

Episode #7 “Parenting Grief:  host by Siegmar Zacharias with Joanne Zerdy & Will Daddario”

Joined through common practices on creative grief work based on personal experiences, Siegmar Zacharias invited Joanne Nerdy & Will Daddario to this podcast series to share their story as parents, performance art scholars, gardeners and grief workers. A beautiful heart that stopped beating after 20 hours of labor gave life to a new ecosystem: Finlay’s Garden. Here, Joanne and Will learned “how to deal with this energy stored and cultivated to put into parenting, into figuring out what grief was”. This transformative path ultimately led to “Inviting abundance”, a business where they offer specific grief work opportunities for those who are seeking to open to grief.

Siegmar Zacharias is a performance artist and researcher. Her works produce situations of embodied visceral thinking together with and through matter. They develop formats of performances, immersive installations, discursive encounters and curations that deal with questions of the generative ethical dynamics of transformation: agency, liquefaction, ecologies of artistic and social practice. Learning from uncontrollable material like smoke, slime, drool, nervous system and death and dying, she collaborates with humans and non-humans. Exploring the politics of intimacy & alienation toward a feminist posthumous poet(h)ics. 

Joanne Zerdy & Will Daddario: Driven by their experience as grieving parents and PhD researchers in the Arts and Humanities, they started Inviting Abundance in order to offer something that didn’t yet exist. They imagined a place where grief work, individual and group education, self-care, and alternative healing combine into a holistic suite of services for people from all walks of life. This imagined place is their business, which they grow a bit each day. Besides this joint project, Will continues to be active in the academic world as editor of a book series, online journal, and articles about a wide range of topics in the Humanities, in addition to his writings on grief. After leaving academia, Joanne attained a Permaculture Design Certificate and completed an intensive 1000-hour course in Herbalism, in part to cultivate the work of Finlay’s Garden. 

Episode #8 “Making families making art: Maternal Fantasies”

For this episode Sheena McGrandles inquires next to three members of the feminist art collective MATERNAL FANTASIES, what other kinds of political imaginaries, strategies, tools and wishes can coexist in the management of family and (art) work structures? 
Founded in 2018 by Magdalena Kallenberger, a single mother then who had no time to produce art while having a child, the collective is made by “individuals who have their own viewpoints, and very different opinions on how to raise children, live in different family constellations but who try to work beyond judgement with each other ’s capacities, coming from so many fields but having a similar aim or target: to figure out ways and possibilities of existence combining art life and motherhood together”.

MATERNAL FANTASIES is an interdisciplinary group of international artists and cultural producers based in Berlin. They shape the discourse on motherhood through collective artistic processes while enhancing the visibility of contemporary feminist positions addressing motherhood(s)in the arts. From writing autobiographical responses to classic feminist texts to devising performances using children’s games, their art practice favours inclusive community-oriented experiments as alternatives to traditional structures of art production. Bridging theory and practice, their strategy transforms research on motherhood(s), care work and representation in the arts into frameworks for immersive modes of critique. Current members of MATERNAL FANTASIES are Aino El sold, Hanne Klaas, Isabell Spengler, Lena Chen, Magdalena Kallenberger, Maicyra Leao, Mikala Hyldig Dal. 

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