The American Church in Berlin
The American Church in Berlin, 19th Sept 2014 – Photo: Lazar Curcin


”One night in long bygone times, man awoke and saw himself.

He saw that he was naked under cosmos, homeless in his own body. All things dis­solved before his testing thought, wonder above wonder, horror above horror unfolded in his mind.

Then woman too awoke and said it was time to go and slay. And he fetched his bow and arrow, a fruit of the marriage of spirit and hand, and went outside beneath the stars. But as the beasts arrived at their waterholes where he expected them of habit, he felt no more the tiger’s bound in his blood, but a great psalm about the brother­hood of suffering between everything alive.

That day he did not return with prey, and when they found him by the next new moon, he was sitting dead by the waterhole.”

Peter Wessel Zappfe

The American Church in Berlin
The American Church in Berlin, 19th Sept 2014 – Photo: Lazar Curcin


I am a barren woman. This is not something we talk about very often. It seems like I am not allowed to. It is too uncomfortable. Whether I was doomed, or whether I chose it as the women in the following texts, I still don’t know.

I remember a conversation with my brother in law, sitting on the decks of a small ferry, a short travel from the cabin of my ex-husbands small resort. Both of us were in our late twenties, I think I had married a year or two earlier. When it came up that I didn’t want any children, he instantly replied “that’s a bit late to say!” I was stunned. So by marrying I had kind of promised to give birth? I remember thinking that my husband knew this very well, and I was surprised that a ring could make people forget who I was, or expect things that was highly unlikely. Nobody had any reason to think of me as the “mothering type”. But since I married, they just assumed I would give birth. Even radical friends of mine admitted to this view. It surprised me, because I never imagined myself to have children.

My husband left me when I was 28. I was at work, and when I came home he was gone without a note or nothing. I cried the rest of the year. A year later a tumour the size of an orange was discovered in my uterine. They told me that the treatment would burn it all away. I asked them if I could remove an egg, but this would diminish my chances for survival. I still remember that I didn’t want to have kids even when I was married, so why should this matter now? Unfortunately it does. It seems like being a barren woman makes you half person.

A year ago, September 14th 2013, Liv Kristin Holmberg challenged “Non-Mothers” to write about their choice. By posting the request online she received fifteen texts by Scandinavian women. Six months later, I was introduced to her. We had never met be­fore, but several colleagues had told me about her work. Later she wrote to me about a project that might fit for Berlin. I was stunned, again. She didn’t know I was barren, she came to me, what I did was just to sharpen the edges. I am just another of the Non-Mothers, not pretending to be anonymous, or neutral, as I keep asking myself what she asked the other Non-Mothers: Are we obliged to give birth, to create life?

Maria Veie, Curator

The American Church in Berlin
The American Church in Berlin, 19th Sept 2014 – Photo: Lazar Curcin


Dear child whom I will never get to know,

I think of you sometimes. I wonder if you’d turn out to be adventurous like him or if you would be more skeptical like me? Would you get his wonderful hair, curly and dark or my blonde and thin hair? What kind of music would you like? What decisions would you make in life? Would I support you fully or would I turn out to be a controlling mother full of anxiety? Who would break your heart for the first time? Would you come to me and talk about the pain? I hope so. I know I would be able to answer since I’ve been there too.

In my dreams you are the perfect child. Daring, self-confident, talented and adventurous. However, I will never get to know.

It hasn’t been easy, I want you to know that. The road up until now was rocky and long. I’ve been questioned so many times and I have to defend myself and my decision – not sometimes but always and everywhere. I started to even question it myself since it seemed so provocative and wrong.

You might think “but it takes two”. My dear, the truth is that he has never been questioned or even asked why he doesn’t want to become a father. He has not even once in his life had to explain why. I wonder why that is? To him it was such an easy thing that he wouldn’t even call it a decision and to me it was almost like a revolution. Not because of what I felt or knew was right, but because of what I knew the world around me felt.

Women close to me have said that when a child is born, a mother’s heart is no longer her own. My dear, I can truly say I own my own heart. My heart isn’t cold and egoistic just because you don’t exist. It’s actually filled with love and compassion.

I still remember the moment when I knew I would never get to hold you in my arms. I cried. Not of sorrow, but it was a cry of relief. I felt whole again.

I had always known deep in my heart, but at that very moment I just knew I was ready to tell the world. The world with all its expectations and images of what every woman want and should be like. There and then I knew I was ready. I said the words out loud to myself. They sounded wonderful. “I will never bare a child, I will never be a mother”.

I hope I’ll be able to return to that place one day, that I can sit down on that very rock and still feel certain, happy and confident about my life. A life lived without, but in some way also with, you.

Anonymous scandinavian woman


American Church in Berlin Dennewitzplatz, 10783 Berlin, Germany 19th Sept
Prosjektrommet, Traktorstallen, Eidsvoll Verk Magoveien 24, 2074 Eidsvoll, Norway 13th Dec


Berlin, october 2014