We Have A Body
We have a body and we have growth.
X concluded that although the power of performance art lies within its very form, it is often dissected, deconstructed into parts and limbs. It might be that a lot of people seek for the possibility of isolation and division by giving objects concepts and meanings, or even by naming them. And that’s why people enjoy Banksy-like symbols and iconography: ideas that are nicely diced and put together through a partial understanding of social justice.
On a different note, how far must we go in referencing for ourselves, for our behaviours and thoughts, how far do we go into performance more than real life?
We can look at ourselves as a collection. Collectors are obsessed with their objects because their collections never have an end and endure the destruction of time. We collect moments and memories in our minds just as we unconsciously collect scraps of information online because they feel like a part of us. By finding relevance you have possession and you feel meaningful validation – whether it is from a tangible souvenir or a screenshot of a wholesome square of digital humour.
We collect because we cannot give ourselves entirely to public and virtual scrutiny – only what we think are the best parts, or the most interesting. It is about being vulnerable and bearing parts of your collectio of thoughts even though it may not be the best or very interesting at all. It is about being self-aware so you don’t get carried away by performances that are confidently standardised and screaming: “THIS IS THE BEST WAY FOR EVERY BODY.”
We have a body and we must have endless energy for growth.
Eden Mitsenmacher & Rebecca Tritschler
Eden was the first to send us a submission in response to our open call and even though she is not from Singapore, we could not refuse her great videos.
In this collaborative work with Rebecca Tritschler, Nancy Sinatra’s song is broken down into simple plucking of string and not-entirely-onkey singing.
“one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you”
On you the body disintegrates into shapes and forms that float around the screen in muted explosion. It is a perfect modern transplant of Nancy Sinatra’s message into the comfort of the bedroom and the world of the Internet. In today’s day and age, we can become our own icons, but we can also become our own undoing.
Eden wrote to us saying that These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ “undermines the idea of the archetypal ‘feisty woman scorned’ with wit and udder-like toes” (Eden to X, email, May 2017).
For X the uncomfortably pulsating shapes, crude representations of body parts melding together was more than just a usurping of Sinatra’s symbolism. There was a sense of perseverance and attitude to this strange body that we were attracted to. Today’s modern thinker is able to deconstruct their identity in the wake of new knowledge and understanding. Dismantling and delegitimatizing all that used to make sense is common sense activism.
There is an ever-growing culture of activism and self-criticism that, for those who take it seriously, have the power of rattling you out of shape and into disconnected pieces. And it should be uncomfortable. Staying within the comforts of your own world resists change and thus continuity. ‘Continuity’ as opposed to ‘progress’ because it acknowledges the unattractive difficulty, the lumpy, hairy, awkwardness of change that we are all party to.
You can break out your window and float on a cloud and there you are. You have reintegrated into something different and just as strange as you were before, but there you are. Sometimes losing control of what makes sense to you is exactly the push you need out of stifling rooms.
Steph’s works brought us into another series of disjunctures, created by pairings of objects that remind you of what real life is and what isn’t. Stark white plaster casts of body parts placed on textures and materials. All carefully positioned within a black space.
“I choose to cast various body parts as I wanted to freeze a certain gesture in time and isolate them in a fragmented way, away from the body.” (Steph to X, email, April 2017)
In evoking classical sculptures with the use of white plaster, another sort of modulation of the human flesh and body is revealed to the eye. Then it is held in eerie visual comparison with the stoic simplicity of a patterned rug. We felt like something was irrevocably disrupted, kind of like forcing the viewer into the juxtapositions of object life and objectified life. The exposure of the prostate back on a prayer rug. A shattered body cast in the presence of a taut one.
Disembodiment reminded X of a human figure striking a pose, or that scene in Aladdin where the parrot is pretending to be a flaming. There is a disconnect between humans and natural forms, like how we often have to artificially create connections or bonds to the natural world or movement. Or, it is a disconnect that isolates nature so that it is not really a part of our life anymore – it has become a separate token of the natural world. The starkness of the colours from the flatness of the black seems to place the image of the flowers in an unreachable, non-reality dimension of its own, stagnant in perspective, placing it neither far or near, here nor there.
“At the same time, I think art is a kind of disembodiment where we can leave ourselves behind in our works even when our physical body is gone.”
(Eunice to X, email, May 2017)
One of our favourite questions from her summed up a lot of the confusion that many people had with our first issue. We wanted to keep the theme of Ground Zero as vague as it suggested, yet within the vicinity of performance art and virtual reality, and whatever relationship that could evoke. She asked us,
“Ground Zero is a platform online..? On print? Actual space?”
Our favourite part of that is the “Actual space?” because that was the exact point: it doesn’t matter the medium or form, online or print, we started off with a space in mind that could be held together and grown from by actual people, their questions, their expressions, their art. Ground Zero exists with this ambiguity. It felt better to keep a distance from the questions and objectives we curated to fill in application forms. The entirely defined and unquestioned thing is just a machine. And even machines grow and update themselves with what scientists call intelligence, but what we call art.