Every Wednesday during the 2016 UBCO Summer Indigenous Intensive, participating resident artists form a panel to engage particular creative/social contexts in a room of students, other artists, and the general public. This was the first panel, July 7.
It took time for our bodies to absorb the gifts given to them, to negotiate the new places explored through yesterday’s roundtable. The question: What influence does the notion of body have on your creative work? Concepts of the body, bodies, our bodies, national bodies, various bodies.
The artists -Rebecca Belmore, David Garneau, Rodrigo Gomez-Hernandez, Cecily Nicholson, and Jordan Scott- gifted their responses to the room, letting them alight on our bodies, their bodies.
In the spirt of walking together, Rodrigo considered the collective body and reflected on his body’s relationship to Indigeneity, the nation-state of Mexico, and as a migrant here, now. Los tres tiempos: three wheels of time parallel to each other, looking back and forward and to the present at different speeds. David Garneau articulated the philosophical limitations of considering ‘the’ body, ‘the’ always presupposing a normative body. He revealed how museums are constructed by avoiding the living, leaking, present body (don’t touch anything!) in an idolization of the cryogenic bodies on display in a cultural necropolis.
Rebecca Belmore’s performance piece was a resonant litany of performative bodies: some bodies, no bodies, every bodies, all bodies.
Cecily Nicholson began with Audre Lorde’s quotation: “wherever the bird with no feet flew, she found a tree with no limbs.” But, instead of focusing on the often negative interpretation of the words, she asked us to consider questions of compatibility. Bodies and entities share space, soil, without ever touching. She shared with us how her own body, and its relationships to the bodies around her, have necessitated a fundamental need to be concerned about well-being, being well.
Jordan Scott delivered a brilliant investigation of the poetics of the stutter. The question: what happens when speech meets power? Jordan articulated the relationships between speech dysfluencies and interrogation techniques, and questioned how bodies speak versus how they tell the truth. We view dysfluency as somehow untruthful and fluency as somehow indicative of the truth. But, what happens in the situations where bodies are placed in pain? Specifically thinking through Guantanomo Bay, Jordan asked, how are these confessions arrive at if you put speech and body through pain? What happens when we look for cracks in fluency as indicative of being untruthful, but those cracks are themselves artificially produced?
And all around them bodies responded with agreement, respectful questions, ideas erupted, and bodies spoke in relation to each other. Peter Morin asked about moments of freedom within art, Krista Arias asked us to think about notions of death and those who celebrate the dead, Tannis Nielson asked if art was enough in the collective effort of decolonization, Michael Turner inquired as to how the body of the Black Lives Matter protestors in Toronto disrupted the body of the Pride parade and what that meant, Toby Wesenberg asked the artists what they hoped to activate within the body of the residency.
To the latter Rodrigo answered: “I don’t expect you to do anything with it but just to know that it exists.”
Thank you for your gifts, for showing us that they exist.