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"Maternal Exposure - Don't Forget the Lunches: A Sculptural Installation by Monica Bock and Poetry by Zofia Burr"
2001-01-10 until 2001-02-03
Boston, MA, USA

Maternal Exposure (don't forget the lunches) is the central installation in the January show at Mobius. The piece is inspired by the daily ritual -- that the artist, Monica Bock, became intensely aware of when my children entered all-day toddler care and pre-school -- of exposing one's children and one's nurturing skills to public scrutiny. The piece consists of 418 lead sheet bags embossed with the daily menus of school and day camp lunches that she prepared for her two young children over the course of the year from January 6 to December 23, 1999.

The lead bags gather in rows in one half of the exhibition space, spreading across the floor in the order the original lunches were prepared. Inserted intermittently, small lead sheet plaques replace lunch bags and announce the days when no lunches needed to be made -- sick days, snow day, holidays, parties at school. As flesh-like counter-parts to the protective yet poisonous lead bags, 428 cast glycerin soap bags (equaling the number of days my children left the house for school, with lunch bag in hand or no) accumulate organically on the floor in the other half of the space. A series of poems (or poem fragments) by Zofia Burr are written on the walls of the gallery surrounding the lunch bags on the floor. Two of the eight fragments read:

(My mother said)
If you plan to run away, let me know and I'll pack you a lunch,
if you want to run away, let me know and I'll pack your bag.
Just be sure
to send us a postcard.
Just be sure to let me know.

The lunch bag is loaded. With coming from home that is her
carried into the world. That you are returning to. Regarded.
And what is spoken in the lunch packed and eaten,
rejected or thrown away, every day a mother is supposed
to allow the time to keep nothing of.

Maternal Exposure (don't forget the lunches) represents the second collaboration in which Zofia and Monica have explored the conjunction of text, object and space. For this installation, Zofia wrote in response to conversations and a studio visit with Monica after she had conceived of the lunch bag installation. As her own mother became seriously ill soon after they began, it was a particularly fraught moment that yielded poems exploring some of the more treacherous and costly meanings of maternal nurturing.

- Monica Bock

Monica Bock is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Prior to this appointment Monica was a Chicago-based artist holding Adjunct Faculty positions at the Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago's Columbia College. She received her BFA and MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her BA in Art and Art History from Oberlin College. Monica has exhibited nationally and in Japan where she spent three years on fellowship from Oberlin Shansi Memorial Association.

Zofia Burr is Associate Professor of English at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. She holds a Ph.D. in English and an MFA in poetry from Cornell University. Zofia's poetry has been published in several journals and she has two major book projects in progress including Poetry and Its Audiences: Address and Difference in the Works of Emily Dickinson, Josephine Miles, Gwendolyn Brooks, Audre Lorde, and Maya Angelou.

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