This is Essential Work Exhibition

Calling for artists/mothers at all stages of their careers.

How much is reproductive work valued in our world? Nurturing, feeding, bearing, and caring work is crucial to the survival of humans everywhere, yet the world rarely perceives it as work.

This Is Essential Work is an online open-access intersectional feminist exhibition initiated by academic mothers and creators, Michal Nahman (UWE, Bristol) and Susan Newman (Open University) in response to their experiences and interdisciplinary research on the commodification of breastmilk and forms of exploitation of women’s bodies and labour.

They came to this from research conducted just before the Covid 19 pandemic, in Bengaluru, India, into women’s provision of “excess” breastmilk to a private company that was pasteurising it and selling the milk online and across borders at a profit. Why did women give their milk? Because they were convinced it was free and easy to do and by giving it had value to others.

This is not unique to breastmilk. It is not enough to just write about this in the distant realm of academia. Women work hard; giving in the home, caring for their own children, for other peoples’ children, for men and other family members in a multitude of ways unpaid. Women hold some of the lowest paid and unstable jobs around the world, often at the same time as doing all of this caring work.

For this exhibition, they are looking for art that conveys how women’s work and their bodies get devalued. This feminist exhibition is about showcasing women’s work: to acknowledge, to grieve, and importantly, to connect with one another.

They are looking to showcase women artists who question the value that society puts on their work, including all kinds of labour. The list of our Essential Work is endless and it holds up the world.

For more information please follow the direct link.