Mother, Cleaning (2021)

Billboard Video, Mute, 21:46
Group Show Look at Me / Look through Me by Tempe Atelier
Trondheim Torg
Backed by Trondheim Kommune

Mother, Cleaning is a slow-motion video meditation inspired by A Few Things I Really Hate in Life™ (full list below). Filmed at my husband’s grandmother’s house in Åfjord, Norway, it displays a procession of motherly house cleaning chores in their true cathedralesque beauty.

Excerpts from Mother, Cleaning

Tempe Atelier’s digital performance and film program Look at Me / Look through Me screened at Trondheim Torg addresses ways of living and artistic expression of five local female artists, putting to question how they create and relate to the changing conditions of our times, at the height of COVID-19 pandemic.

A Few Things I Really Hate in Life™
(that are relevant to this piece)

1. Norwegian classes. If you know me, you heard me bitch about this before. My hatred is by a large part provoked by the book we are using on B level; it's called Stein på stein, and it is all about immigrants and poor people. There's no one in it doing stuff like watching TV, working out, baking bread or growing plants. Nobody that talks about feelings or cosmos or dinosaurs, just how they can't afford to buy a new car or get a job because xenophobia. Seriously, everything about this book is irrelevant and insulting to me, and the fact that it was written by people thinking that these topics are so applicable to me that they are ABOUT ME is making me scream in my head while we read from it, every time.

2. Explaining what it is I do / plan to do. I am a private person and also I live a lot in my head, so it seems like I am lazy and not doing much to the judgy doer people, like my mom. There is no way I could favorably explain to her my plans and actions in life, and this uncomfort about sharing has spread into generalized anxiety about talking about anything I do, want to do or have done already. Sondre is always teasing me how when his parents ask me what it is I'm doing these days I start talking about weather. But yeah, to talk about myself and what I do is supremely uncomfortable.

3. Housework. Another one that relates to my mom, and especially to her mom, my grandmother, god rest her beautiful soul. They were both absolute neat freaks when I was growing up. Apart from endless lists of repetitive daily chores, my sweet little granny would vacuum every single day, right after breakfast. This particular thing was so odd to me, that I would mention it to people who didn't know her when I was describing her as a quirky trait she had. In both their opinions I was a careless slob and early on they discouraged me from cleaning and would instead send me grocery shopping or watering the plants.


The first time I was forced to read from Stein på stein, it was a semester after I graduated from KiT. I was pregnant and nauseated, so going to classes became infinitely harder than before when it was just boring. Sweating bullets about whether I will have to run out to vomit in the middle of a class is exactly the opposite of feeling comfortable, but still boring.

Kapittel 1, Erfaringer og planer (Chapter 1, Experiences and plans), and the first text is about Sonia, an immigrant stay-at-home mom, pictured here in her reduced state - with a vacuum cleaner, hair undone, babies crawling around her bare feet. 

This image and the lesson about her hit like a nuclear kick in the gut, and I found myself nitpicking them over and over again. Is this who they want me to be? Is this all I am to them? Look at this... furniture. She is fucking barefoot!

I did this so much, and with such hatred and disgust, that I realized I need to back off; that there is nothing wrong with Sonia, the photo of her with her family; that what she is doing is a noble work and god's work, and that I need to elevate it, and stop this narcissistic poison in my head; that there is nothing strange about aspiring to be a stay-at-home mother, that that is a legitimate life choice, one that gets unrecognized and unapreciated, but is essential work for humanity and society. That, yes, I am going to be the same as her, and the same as my grandmother, and endless mothers of this world. I too am going to vacuum every day, and have really bad hair. I'm just an ordinary working person. To be human is to be a hypocrite, and to grow out of it takes constant checking.

28.04.2021 ArtsceneTrondheim, Aksel Langum Øien - Nytelseskultur og tilhørighet
20.04.2021 Adresseavisen, Annemona Grann - Vi gjør reklameskjermen om til en arena for kunstverk
19.04.2021 MakeShift, Mishi Foltyn - Look at Me / Look through Me
Trondheim Kommune strakstiltak for Mother, Cleaning