Breast milk is the "embodiment" of human nurture, of healing and nourishment of the newborn. It is well documented to contain vital immunological and medicinal replenishing qualities as well as inducing significant psychological effects. Breast milk itself, as anything other than for maternal use, is a contested topic. Even public breast feeding, which should lie within the scope of social norms, continues to encounter more than it’s share of socially-held prejudices - there are many stories of ridicule against breast-feeding in public. What about non-normative lactation, feeding as a non-maternal practice and performance art? Zoo's (a.k.a Cathy Davies) 10-day performance 'Curdle' set free an investigation into the possibilities and experiences of feeding and lactating outside of cultural norms.
Davies, fascinated by human fluids, sexual subcultures and the capabilities and desires of the body, investigated (and continues to do so) non-maternal lactation through her own embodied experiences and performative practice. Curdle was a vital part of her doctoral studies ‘(M)Other’s Milk: A Fictocritical Research Project Queering Lactation Through Non-Maternal Practice and Performance’.
During the performance visitors were encouraged to engage with the artist, touch her breasts and also her breast milk. Curdle confronts us with all aspects of the non-normative appeal of breast milk from feeding a partner, as part of a healing practice, or sexual arousal, to using it within artistic practice. Breastfeeding is not just for food.