Motherland @ The Arches
Nic Green has forged a strong reputation for herself on the back of Trilogy, her critically acclaimed feminist meditation from 2009 - now comes Motherland. From the onset, it is visually startling: Green herself, along with nineteen other women of all ages, dressed in blue tops with sky blue paper skirts, encircle a young mum and her beautiful baby son, like a protective shell around them. We watch the child playing with a pine cone and wonder at his complete lack of self-consciousness, before he and mother depart.
The women take up their position on the floor, silence punctuated by the swishing of their outfits, then split into two separate factions - one a group of warriors, the other, visitors waiting to be initiated into the group. There is no dialogue, but a primitive communication through grunts, laughing and a kind of haka-type dance. Then they sing, in ethereal rousing counterpoint, "The grass grows around me / The grass grows over me...” Birth and decay - nature’s duality.
The waxing and waning of the moon is another potent Pagan fertility symbol in this piece, and the most eye-popping moment comes in the form of a monochrome birthing film montage – crowning babies appear on screen in close-up, to the sound of Ella Fitzgerald singing Blue Moon. One mother’s unabashed joy at her new arrival has us laughing and sobbing in equal measure. Primordial and evocative, it is a hard heart that could not be moved by this loving and visceral piece, so life-affirming, a celebration of birth and womanhood.