research: article(s) on menstrual blood in performance, on queerness in blood letting, The politics of shit (perhaps the most important), trans* anthems, Although it's only been technically a week of not posting, in terms of actual dedicated work time, it feels like loads has developed in the last 3 weeks.
I feel I'm honing in much further on what I want to say, and also going in to totally new terrain and coming up against really interesting obstacles. I think appropriately enough, I began to feel like a kid at christmas in the last week of term. I'd just opened my eyes fully to live art (if that's the best thing to call it...) and found resonance with it in a way that I never have before. Suddenly all these amazing artists' work take on new meaning - Franko B, Ron Athey, Kira O'Reiley, Marin O'Brian (I could go on)... I found all these articles on why working with the body and bodily fluids can be situated within a queer discourse.
I got so excited by the concept of changing outfits/images AND doing an action that involved bodily fluids in each of those that I figured it was best to take all of it to the tech meeting.... I'm very glad there is a team there to remind me of technicalities. The meeting made me realise that not only is this area still very new for me, but also that the themes i'm dealing with are already big and complex. The more is thrown in, the less clarity there is. Needless to say, working with menstrual blood, blood letting, wee and poo was not going to be a thing. Blood letting already seemed to be different to the others anyway (the others flow out, whereas blood letting is an active choice). I had to focus. I had to rein in the feeling of being a little live art puppy a little bit...
I went away and thought about each fluid in isolation, and what they can mean performatively. The most commonly used seemed to menstrual blood, and had lots of association with feminist/womanhood - no surprise there. Urine was not something I found much about at all. Poo - although I didn't find artists who worked with their own, I did find an amazing article on the politics of poo and shame. This is fascinating to me that I couldnt find anyone, at least not right away, who had worked with their own poo. The article i read spoke about it beyond the obvious, it being a waste product and often carrier/cause of disease, and in relation to Freud - to being able to control our fluids as a sign of independence from our parents. As regression, as the ultimate shame, shame being something that is public. One cannot feel shame without being shamed by another. "It's everywhere, it's in each of us and it literally cannot be ignored". It viewed shit as the literal and metaphorical passing through a border/barrier, as "a threat to our very identity,and explosive protest against rationalism".
I agreed. Shit is the body existing
it's something all bodies do, in their own way
it's a private act
sometimes it's fetishised
"we are what we repeatedly do"
the body as a transient object
when constructs fall away
a literal coming out
everyone's body is a constant process, that we think of as fixed (daily, over a life time)
what self are we when our body is making itself known? In these basic acts
The word I had been looking for the whole time, was shame - the arch enemy of self love.
But like I said, the idea of taking a shit in front of anyone was pretty new to me - let alone on stage. Let alone as part of my degree show, supported by RCS.
And alas, a live poo was not to be. This idea had come pretty late in the day, and anyway after having a talk with Stephen, this was probably not the right context to do it in. Beyond the fact the tech team are not trained/supposed to have to deal with bio-hazard stuff, and that making things safe would cost more money than we have, The Arches itself has licensing to worry about. Because I wasnt totally sure how this live poo act would manifest, people weren't sure if I was going to cross lines - lines that mean you can't be pornographic essentially - it made total sense. Plus the fact that I am someone venturing in to vulnerable territory, I would need to be a lot more sure of what I was doing to get past the big dogs (glasgow city council) and after reading up this week (and actually, due to my dissertation, already having known about the "scandal" at Glasgay when their exhibition at GOMA was taken down because the daily mail got all right wing about videos of naked gay men talking about being HIV positive) I know that media can twist things to make them out to be something they're not. Being that I'm little old me, I don't think I'm quite ready to handle that if it happened. But, given that I do feel very passionate about this and can articulate in many ways why i feel the idea has integrity, I would have to work out what the first steps were. Shitting in a public performance, maybe in ten years. Potential career path mapped out, check. In to the new piece finished, erm, not quite.
So I'd got a no. I completely understand why. I'm actually glad, I don't think some of the ideas i have now are ones to just simply do in this context. Jess gets that. Jak on the other hand? Jak was in shock, Jak felt emotional, Jak cried a bit. Jak was like, wait, you mean most likely some white cis hetero guys are yet again controlling what I can do? Wait, orange marches can happen, but someone simply doing the most basic human thing in front of another group of humans is not allowed?
and I thought, this whole time, the history has been important - the abuse, hatred, violation against queer people for centuries and then the erasure of that history - because those things are not in the past. My desires are still being controlled and shamed. Police brutality is very much a thing. And it's especially a thing against people of colour, and within that trans* people of colour. It's the whole being destined to repeat history if we don't know it thing. Representation in the media is a huge part of othering people.
And then Jak became glad that a live act of poo wouldn't be allowed. And Jak thought, then a mediated one will have to occur - and actually that's highly appropriate given these new porn laws. And Jak didn't know exactly what the piece would look like still, or what they'd be doing or the audience role- but Jak knew what the next step was. I can't do it on the day? I'll just have to record me doing it, everyday, until the show. No shame. Big screen.
We are what we repeatedly do...