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Olivia Heal

Kate Zambreno’s Appendix Project

Kate Zambreno’s Appendix Project

Reviewed by Olivia Heal

“Our first breast-feeding friendly piece,” tweeted an editor of The White Review when “Appendix F,” one of the eleven appendices gathered in Kate Zambreno’s Appendix Project, was published online. Printed as a thin column, it is easy to scroll and read one-handed, while breastfeeding. The acknowledgement of the mother-child dyad is a theme that underlies Zambreno’s recent work: “Appendix F” positions the nursing mother and child “on a bench in front of the El Greco ‘Holy Family’ at the Met,” “outside the bubblegum phallic Franz West sculpture at MASS MoCA” and “in front of a Harry Dodge video at the New Museum’s gender show.” While never the explicit focus of Appendix Project, the talks and essays gathered here are shot through with references to the practice of raising a young child. There’s a sense of gentle provocation here—inserting a screen into the mother-child dyad, juxtaposing the maternal function, or, say, the breastfeeding toddler, with a variety of artworks—one that figures the maternal subject as a central concern in an area where she has long been beside, or outside, the point. And, a suggestion that the “pram in the hall” is no longer an impediment to the creative act but potentially responsible for creating the conditions for writing. . .