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When it’s simply maternal instinct to eat your young

Mothers – in nature and in human societies – are typically thought to have some sort of essential ‘maternal instinct’. Enter the irrepressible Italian artist, writer and actress Isabella Rossellini, who asks, ‘But is this true? What is this trait, this characteristic, common to all mothers?’ In this short video from her ‘Mammas’ series that explores this question, Rossellini reenacts the surprising post-birth behaviour of female hamsters, who kill and sometimes eat their weaker newborn pups to recoup energy from the birth so as to care better for the rest of their litter. From within the prison of fixed ideas about motherhood, she reminds us: ‘If I were a hamster… I would not have been considered a monster, but a good administrator of my strengths, abilities and resources.’

Video by Isabella Rossellini

Producers: Patrice Haddad, Claire Marquet

7 June 2018

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