Mother.Work. (2014)

Where is the agency for mothers’ work? Is it men against women or is it capitalism against the family? Mother.Work. is a site work inspired by the Llano del Rio colony. Llano del Rio was founded in 1914 by socialist Job Harriman. In the four years of existence, close to 1000 people joined Harriman sharing his utopian non-religious beliefs and working to create a community of cooperative economic ideals.

Premiered at Squaring the Circle: Llano del Rio colony centennial. Co-produced by Craftswomanhouse and Hinterculture.

Choreographed by Christine Suarez in collaboration with the performers

Performed by Rebecca Bruno, Alexx Shilling and Christine Suarez

Written by Tessa Blake and Christine Suarez

Music by Skye Steele

The colony represents an intersection of feminism and socialism. Feminist architect, Alice Constance Austin was one of the visionaries – designing kitchenless houses, communal daycare, built in furniture, heated tile floors. Her design (which was never fully realized) would have resulted in less domestic housework, easier childcare, liberating women from the traditional household duties, and allowing them to fully enter the public sphere.

We created a core phrase drawing from the physicality of boldness, sparseness, shedding, wind, water, failure and freedom. We also wrote three letters from a fictitious woman who was living on the colony. We wonder what her hopes and dreams were. Did they materialize? What motivated her to move to the barren desert? What were  the realities of colony life?

She writes: “Remember, Mama, should you come here, that this is not a utopia. I do love it, but we must recognize that we can’t achieve the impossible. We are still under the thumb capitalism. Our colony is a corporation. But instead of using it for parasitical advantage, the benefits go to us, the workers. Isn’t this swell?”