marie chouinard compagnie – bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS

An astonishing piece, created for the Venice Biennale’s International Festival of Contemporary Dance, Italy, 2005 by Canadian dancer, choreographer and dance company director Marie Chouinard, OC (born 14 May 1955). Some excerpts from the performance at Place des Arts, Montreal, 2007:

In this work by Marie Chouinard, the company’s ten dancers execute variations on the exercise of freedom. Often, the dancers appear on points: on one, two, and even four at a time. In a spectroscopy of the gesture, we also see them using different devices – crutches, rope, prostheses, horizontal bars, and harnesses – which at times liberate their movements, at others fetter it, and at still others create it.

This use of accessories gives rise to unusual bodily shapes and gestural dynamics and opens onto a universe of meticulous and playful explorations in which solos, duos, trios and group work, in their labour, pleasure and invention, echo the human condition.

An aesthete beyond norms, Marie Chouinard presents her ideas on the way the indefinableness of the Other and the flagrancy of Beauty brush up against one another through an interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Subtle and extravagant, sumptuous and wild, the work’s movements plumb the insoluble mystery of the body, of the living being.

Watch the whole performance >

a portrait of hans bellmer, by unica zurn (1965)

HANS BELLMER: The female body…is like an endless sentence that invites us to rearrange it, so that its real meaning becomes clear through a series of endless anagrams. (1)

UNICA ZÜRN: If woman is to put into form the ‘ule’ [Greek: matter] that she is, she must not cut herself off from it nor leave it to maternity, but succeed in creating with that primary material that she is […] Otherwise, she risks using or reusing what man has already put into forms, especially about her, risks remaking what has already been made, and losing herself in that labyrinth. (2)

A Portrait of Hans Bellmer
Unica Zurn, 1965

(1) Webb P.& Short R., Hans Bellmer (New York: Quartet Books, 1985). Cited in: Miranda Argyle, “Hans Bellmer and The Games of the Doll” (Online Publication, 2004).
(2) Quote cited in: Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Gardex by Susan Rubin Suleiman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990). 

review by sound fix records (brooklyn)

From time to time a local artist sans record label will come in with a self-released album that blows us away. This is one of those times! Ella Joyce Buckley is a native of South Africa now based in Brooklyn, and the music on her lovely hand-made CD, Blood Finds No Sea, is an enthralling example of how much more a songwriter can be than just a person with songs and an instrument. Existing equally in the acoustic (as in, played instruments — a range of them) and electronic, Blood Finds No Sea is dramatic, intense and, in the most luminous way, Goth as hell. You can imagine her right at home on 4AD in the mid-’80s, when Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance were mixing shimmeringly bright colors into darkness (and elsewhere, Danielle Dax was at her best). With vast creativity, Buckley manipulates her  gorgeous vocals into choirs, housefuls of spirits even, while strings both plucked and bowed ebb and swell, and keys poke holes in the darkness. The title track spires upward, like Tolkien’s elvish national anthem (oh, just indulge me), with Buckley’s double-tracked vox fixed in place while the music ascends around her. “Sister” features Buckley’s most extravagant vocal, with a plucked violin (I think?) leading into a howling mix of percussion and electronics. Buckley’s arranging skills are advanced — you could easily picture her scoring theater works (besides films), and perhaps she already does. For now, there is this CD, and it comes highly recommended.

Review from Sound Fix Records – 44 Berry St., Brooklyn New York 11211 – (718) 388-8090 | Williamsburg’s Independent Record store

suspended sentence (2009)

my menstrual blood does not “run”.
it’s too viscous.
it builds up behind the bottleneck of my cervix until the weight of
sloughed-off lining gets too heavy to contain,
then it blurts out
in thick, slimy strands of not-baby,
a cosmic disappointment
smelling of fresh death.
sometimes crimson, still almost fecund,
sometimes older and blacker, a nauseating cousin of bile,
blended with albumen, like broken egg white, like frogspawn frustrated.

inside my insides,
god’s scraping a blunt teaspoon round and round,
clearing the walls of my womb for another hit-and-miss next month.

on a heavy day,
pulling out an incontinent tampon,
i sit there on the loo,
toilet paper wrapped round my fingers,
trying to abbreviate the sentence of clots
my lips are drooling into the toilet bowl water.
it’s not a lake, it’s a suspension,
a hanging paragraph of placental full-stops that goes on and on,
and i wipe and shove in another wad of cotton to staunch the ooze for
another few hours of outer peace.

one day, sometime in my forties or fifties
i’ll be paroled,
retired from service.
god will give up on my body
and that will be the end of that.
it’s irrelevant what anyone else wants.

my cunt is me, but it’s also beyond me,
ordained for a purpose beyond my control,
just like your cock is you, but it’s also beyond you,
ordained for a purpose beyond your control.
mostly we are blasphemous.

the obsession with looking into cunts, like the obsession with hard cocks,
is an ontological obsession with discovering and controlling our cosmic origins,
an expression of our raging, impossible desire for omnipotence.
and indeed pornographic images ARE redundant in that they hold no
physical power to alter the workings of sex
those closeups of fucking are nothing more than flat reproductions of
ten centimetres of Life’s copy machine  –
mostly they are over-man-ipulated and bear little resemblance to real
bodies interacting.
porn is the simulacral fantasy of ruling the universe.

I wrote this in 2009 as a comment on this piece:


the art of hannah wilke: ‘feminist narcissism’ and the reclamation of the erotic body

The politics of inclusion that shaped feminist discourse in the 1960s and 1970s spawned a legacy of body-based performance art, much of which was associated with women artists who used their own face as a subject of continual exploration. The self- imaging of women artists such as the provocative American artist Hannah Wilke was frequently attacked and dismissed by art critics as being indulgent exercises in narcissism that only served to reinforce the objectification of the female body. The charge of narcissism leveled on Wilke and her work may have been warranted, however, this should not be considered as a pejorative. Rather, the narcissism of Wilke can be viewed as a shrewd feminist tactic of self-objectification aimed at reclaiming the eroticized female body from the exclusive domain of male sexual desire. The ‘self-love’ of narcissism is a necessary component to this reclaiming of the body and the assertion of a female erotic will as being distinct from that of the male artist. Wilke wielded her narcissistic self-love as a powerful tool of critique, defiantly placing her own image into the hallowed halls of the male-dominated art institution.

The term “narcissism” derives from the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, a beautiful but arrogant youth who cruelly spurned the love of his admirers. For his cruelty, he was cursed by the goddess Nemesis and fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. The doomed Narcissus pined away for his unattainable lover – the image of his own self – and literally died as a result of his amorous longing.

Sigmund Freud bestowed the name of this mythic Greek youth upon his psychoanalytic theory of narcissism, a theory that describes normal personality development. According to Freud, the self-love of narcissism is a normal complement to the development of a healthy ego. Whereas a certain amount of narcissism is desirable, an excess of self-love is considered dysfunctional and indicative of pathology. This latter definition of narcissism, the one of pathological self-absorption, has cast our current understanding of narcissism in a negative light and reinforced the use of the term as a pejorative.

The psychoanalytic theories of Freud suggest that negative or pathological narcissism is a specifically female perversion. Art critic Amelia Jones writes that “[d]rawing loosely on Freud’s definitions – which connect narcissism to both a stage of development and to a form of homosexual neurosis – narcissism has come in everyday parlance to mean simply a kind of “self-love” epitomized through woman’s obsession with her own appearance.” Hence, the charges of narcissism leveled on Hannah Wilke were attempts by the critics to summarily dismiss her work as mere manifestations of a woman’s obsessive self-love and infer, according to Jones, that Wilke’s art was not “successfully feminist.”

Continue reading here

by margaret bertulli

I bleed
I bleed and I wonder
“Will this be the last time?”
I bleed, therefore I am
“What will it be like?
This cessation of menses?”
The unequivocal end of child-bearing.
And my womb, though childless,
Will it feel the end of possibility?
And then the unforeseen strength,
Promised by gender and age, will come.
The sureness, the wisdom,
The spirit to sing my songs.
I know this as all women before me have known.
We know this as we smile at the moon