project image
Jessica Mueller

first performed on June 22, 2020
Chicago Art Department, Facebook Live
performed once in 2020


Alexandra and Ricardo Munguia-Mueller

Chicago, IL


My work provides visibility for experiences of motherhood that are less than glamorous, shows the absurdity and value in the domestic mundane, especially within actions of care and service, and offers space for collective thinking. I investigate intersectionality as I experience it while tending to my bi-cultural / dual-language / single-parent household, negotiating the world of academia and everything else, and toggling between individual making and collective making.

“Shifting Weight” is a follow up to our durational family performance, “Public Weigh In” during which I attempt to remain centered and balanced on a bathroom weight scale while picking up and holding my children in a variety of positions including having them on my shoulders and back. My children and I negotiate on the spot to determine which positions to take and who will do what. I hold them in each position for as long as possible. “Public Weigh In” was a durational performance that ends when I can no longer hold my children up or when all three of us agree that we can no longer continue.

A durational performance, “Shifting Weight” is a public display of motherhood and family dynamics, a negotiation, visual and physical demonstration of single mother life, mother and children as one morphed body/extension of each other’s bodies, private space in public—an attempt to remain centered and balanced, a visual manifestation of endurance and stamina, and an evolution of growth and aging. The “shift” occurs when my children, Alexandra and Ricardo begin supporting each other as siblings and as equals, taking responsibility, “Shifting Weight.” For the first time—reflecting shifting roles in our household as they come of age, they begin supporting me, holding me up even if just for a moment. As they work together creating a strong foundation, I continuously check in and ask, “Are you sure?” “Are you okay?” “Brace yourself, I don’t want to hurt you.” “I need your strength.” They respond, “Don’t worry, we’ve got you.” Mother to Mother, Virtually. “Knots & Nodes.” was our first exhibition and “Shifting Weight,” our first performance during the pandemic. Virtual performance was no longer reserved for the tech savvy. Operating bare bones due to safety and fear, no public, facing the void, only the presence of the camera and the broadcast—quiet. No audience to read, feed off of, hearing only each other, the sound of the room, and the click of the camera.