Haunted Milk, 2019, three channeled video work (ongoing) 

A description of 18th Century feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft nursing a puppy at each breast, a then accustomed remedy for birth related infections, triggered the beginning of this work. A few days after giving birth, Wollstonecraft dies, leaving her daughter Mary Shelley motherless. Mary Shelley is nursed by an English wet
nurse. Before infant formula and bottles were introduced to the market, and better hygiene was implemented in late 19th century, wet nurses played a crucial role to the survival of motherless infants.

At the age of 18, Shelley began to write the novel Frankenstein about a nameless monster born without a childhood or mother figure.

In ‘Haunted Milk’ the hands of Frankenstein’s monster search silently through image material on motherhood, milk, wet nurses and breast feeding. He, as a character, may never have existed if it were not for a wet nurse.

(See note and list of material sources below)















Note: ’Haunted Milk’ is not a document of the history of wet nursing, it is a brief, silent, fragmented encounter with the concept of wet nursing, touching upon different historical records and reflecting on the milk industry as remarkably detached from the idea of nursing and care. I am acutely aware of the colonial history of wet nursing and I began by addressing this history in ‘Haunted Milk’, but upon reconsideration, I find that the matter of wet nursing in the European colonies demands another format, with another support structure, to be cared for acceptably. It is important and sore work that I believe needs an unfolding by or in collaboration with artists in other positions, with another background and relationship to this particular colonial history. A process that I, as a white woman, wish to support in whichever manner I can. I would am interested in thorough collaborations on this subject matter, as a way to understand the different positions we are mothering from.




Music credits:

- Canzona delle Balie (Ballad or song of the wet nurses): flute, drum and voice performed by Kathrine Brandt, 2019. A renaissance song from Italy. At Carnival time the wet nurses attended public festivals and had their own carnival songs, to promote their work,

- Solw, unreleased track, 2018

- Kentaro Haneda, music from Kyōfu Densetsu Kaiki! Frankenstein, 1981  



Sources of material:

- Frankenstein horror costume gloves from Fest & Farver

- Mobile video recording of a burial site for stillborn and unbaptized infants, from a walk with my friend Deirdre Humphrys, Coomkeen, West Cork, Ireland 2019

- Reversed Hentai porn / Woman Cow Milk

- Image: Church fresco from 1350,  Birkerød, Denmark, from Den danske billedbibel i kalkmalerier, 1948, by Robert Brorby Johansen,  

- A woman suckling/nursing/breastfeeding two small devils, functioning as a frightening image of a woman who misuses her milk (and her breasts). Purgatory is awaiting her.

- Video recordings of cows at a small dairy farm, near my mom’s house, Langeland, 2019

- Berthe Morisot’s painting The Wet Nurse Angele Feeding Julie Manet, 1880. An impressionistic portrait of a wet nurse suckling the painters own baby,  WOMEN, ART, AND POWER AND OTHER ESSAYS, 1988, by Linda Nochlin,

- Painting by Giovanni Sergatini The Two Mothers, WOMEN, ART, AND POWER AND OTHER ESSAYS, 1988, by Linda Nochlin,

- Video recording of a cow nursing a calf at The open air museum, the old Denmark (Frilandsmuseet), Lyngby

- Image: direct suckling of an infant by a goat, 1816, Wet Nursing, Valerie Fildes, 1988. A method used in several hospitals in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries to feed syphilitic children; it was also used when there was a shortage of wet nurses.

- Image: Wet nurse for the child of Gabrielle d’Estrees, mistress of Henri IV, Wet Nursing, Valerie Fildes, 1988

- Image: Hospital wet nurse breastfeeding a premature baby at one breast and her own child at

the other 1923, Wet Nursing, Valerie Fildes, 1988

- Image: Group of wet nurses expressing their breast milk, which was then fed to premature and/or sick infants via a tube, spoon, or feeding bottle 1925, Wet Nursing, Valerie Fildes, 1988

- Excerpt from a diary written by a upper middle-class English man, 1848, Wet Nursing, Valerie Fildes, 1988

- Images of Suste Bonnen’s underwater sculpture Agnete og Havmanden, 1992.The figures in the sculpture are characters from an old Danish folktale about Agnete who leaves her mermaid husband and their seven children under the water. In Suste Bonnen’s sculpture the children  are petrified looking up from the water, waiting for the mother to return.

- Photo of a woman nursing her child at a panel discussion, on a conference on milk and nursing, Denmark, from a danish pamphlet on the politics of nursing 1980

- Breast Feeding Mother, 1903, painting by Paula Modersohn Becker

- Sketches of a mother and a child, by Paula Modersohn Becker. Paula Modersohn Becker dies a few days after giving birth, her child survives.

- Mural by Hans Scherfig, Mælk, det er dejligt, 1972, Nørrebro

- Video recording of a pacifier for calfs (in danish a narresut) at a small dairy farm, near my mom’s house, Langeland, 2019

- Photo from “Kvindemælkscentralen”, Fuglebakken, Copenhagen, Denmark 1953-1972: A woman donating milk for payment.

- Photo of an early bottle made from tin, Mother and Child in Danish Folklore, Ejnar Munksgaard, 1940

- Photo of early wooden soothers, Mother and Child in Danish Folklore, Ejnar Munksgaard, 1940

- Found footage of breastfeeding situations and sounds

- Featuring Ilya, Sebastian, Eva, Eiler, Eva Maria, Lulu, Mai (thanks <3)