Breastcups 2009-2011

A collaborative piece with Zoë Gingell of video,installation and performance that was first shown in 2009 at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff.

“Small cup Large cup”

A video piece: 2 monitors play alongside each other. On one close ups of a hand expressing breast milk into a tiny teacup and on the other monitor a hand expresses milk into a normal sized teacup. The work plays in a humorous and ironic way with the breast as a container of many meanings and with the biological normality of breast milk verses current cultural norms. The breast, the milk, but no baby – just milk for our tea.

“Breasts- like the women who “wear”-them can be deemed as both sexual and maternal.” The maternal body disturbs by accentuating this lack of a clear black or white distinction.”

Faedra Chatard Carpenter, ' "(L)Activists and Lattes": Breastfeeding Advocacy as Domestic Performance.' Woman and Performance: a journal of feminist theory 16:3 347-367, p. 352-353.


A cafe scene is set, tables for audience members. At one table sits a mother and her baby. The waitress brings out strange objects and vessels including lacy molded ‘breastcups’ (moulded from the mother’s own breast), which the mother fills by pumping her breast milk through a tube into the vessels.

In “Breastcups”, the maternal breast becomes many vessels, with the medium and fluids of milk a kind of connective currency initially between Mother and Baby, then between self and other, performers and audience. The milk acts as a communicator, the audience involved with a private act – it becomes confrontational.

The piece ‘Breastcups’ evolved from initial ideas to actively work with the subject of ‘other-body’ and a desire to use breastmilk as a performative material, material that the body produced in conjunction with the baby. 

‘Within the installation Breastcups, the maternal body is physically displaced through its table setting, breasts served up as cake and cups on dollies, sitting next to umbilical tubes and feeding paraphernalia, all wrapped up in politeness. As in the videos, the collection of milk, the ever present fluid, acts as a connective currency between the private intimate act of nurture, without the baby’s presence and a world of manners, tea-time.’ Zoë Gingell.

photo credit: Tim Bartlett