bored corpus

1.5 hour action with spoken text, projection, and mixed media (a sweater, glass jars, charcoal, pokeweed, water, human hair, budgerigar feathers, baby teeth, tea, progesterone, plastic, cat fur, studio dust, sap, black walnuts, twigs, copper wire, copper nails, blood, stone, human shit, a paint can, gunpowder, a carpenter bee, compost, probiotics, a hammer)

Performed at the Ely Center for Contemporary Art. Part of: “Celebration of Resilience and Resistance: Divine Moment” organized by Briana Williams.

under fire

3 minute, 13 second video

made for bored corpus, performed and shown at the ely center for contemporary art on december 21st, 2019.

** the text below was read to begin the meeting. **

Let’s start at a passage from Gaston Bachelard in The Psychoanalysis of Fire:The fire confined to the fireplace was no doubt for man the first object of reverie, the symbol of repose, the invitation to repose. One can hardly conceive of a philosophy of repose that would not include a reverie before a flaming log fire. Thus, in our opinion, to be deprived of a reverie before a burning fire is to lose the first use and the truly human use of fire. To be sure, a fire warms us and gives us comfort.[…] It leads to a very special kind of attention which has nothing in common with the attention involved in watching or observing.

A question could be, why mix philosophies of “rest”, daydreaming and conditions of lost thoughts on a night dedicated (first and foremost) to resilience and resistance? If fire is to be involved, wouldn’t it seem a more apt metaphor for action, threat, heat, anarchy or even protection? When one needs rest, they need to chill. Lostness is assumed unstable, which in turn can often be a fearful, or chilling, situation. Often I think in order to resist, to fight, one requires a breed of anger I presume also involves heatedness. But when I’m angry, I’m asked to cool off. Coolness we often take as an antidote to agency.

(Or take focus over daydreaming. These days the days feel like a dream, a daze, a hazy daze bathed in much lightness. What about laser intuition so we may be within our dense darknesses? Give us night vision.)

First let me point out that this is not a real fire—there is no, or very little, heat coming from it. It’s just an electrical fire. But it is a literal one. There’s no metaphor. That’s a real fire. It’s in the fireplace. And it’s not asking anyone to leap over it with quick associations like: agitation, destruction, or even pain. It may associate with those things at times, but it’s not those things. I’m arguing that I don’t even know what fire is; I venture none of us really do. Fire can be cool, since this one is. And a cool fire incubates resiliency, nevertheless.

I ask you to suspend looking. You know that Harte Crane line? Did one look at what one saw/ or did one see what one looked at? That’s a whole poem. It’s bullshit. It’s actually humanshit. I promise you we are not in the tautology business (but we are going into business). There is a vision present here (if not a looking). Let go of seeing and simply attend. Nothing among us is a metaphor. Attend to your reflex for association. I’m asking for reverie and rest and for what may ignite from such conditions. Maybe what will be there is altered focus. Or maybe what will be there are the dreams. The ones we don’t want to release, because of that cable we feel tying us and their realness.

I think I may ask you this, if not as your friend, as hopefully... your friend. because I am asking the same of myself. I’m still working through all this. I’m trying, attending to the unknowns. More and more I sense my participation in something bigger than myself, though it’s very difficult to articulate what. I feel it, and when I feel it, I feel all of you, very much alive, contributing, producing, affecting and being affected. I feel like I should take ownership over this, and all of you, and I am trying hard, in fact it’s coming to a head right now (I’m about to lose my head I think) as we’re here together, to deconstruct this assumption I have that I should control you. I’m sorry. It’s true that I don’t know who or what I am. Who is “I”? Who is “Allison”, or “A”? Sometimes A feels like A, and sometimes A feels like “We”. Sometimes I hear all of you in my dreams. And my gut tells me we are real. That we’re not confused. That none of it’s a metaphor.

On this note, we’re here tonight to meet. To assemble together in all our distorted, liberated forms, and yet also directly and as non-representations. To welcome the strangeness of each other in one another’s houses. So we’re going to go through introductions. There is no need to produce anything of substance from our meeting tonight, only a record that we have been here in the lights of our fire.

Because a record is needed, we’ll introduce our Secretary first, which is me, or A, or this amorphous body whom A is losing their sense of boundaries over, now foreign, yet appearing most like our witnesses tonight. Why would A assume to be the first among us to hold this role? To be honest, they have held a number of secretarial jobs in their life and have a decent level of training. (In the human sense.) But more to the point (and allow me to associate): most of our witnesses here appear tonight most like A. They may be the best suited to communicate our being-together, as humans habitually open to their own self-image, say, before fear, even their dreams (stone and coper wire: sorry to put you on the spot).

Next I’ll introduce our Bored Chair. Please welcome this yellow metal folding chair. If you are wondering why it is bored it’s because it’s empty and doesn’t have much to do. This chair is really just a stand-in for a chair. (But it not a metaphor.) Presently it’s unclear where we, this body incorporating, begins and ends. Who can head an undefined body? At this point, at best, we can only make projections. …Some of the witnesses may be asking: why is the Secretary seated on the Bored Chair? Honestly A needs a place to rest right now. And I promise our witnesses, and you, that I am literally as empty as this chair really is. They can regard A as a body without organs. Just an inhuman doll, coming to lives.

A hopes this explains why they are on the chair and not wedged underneath it. Hopefully this points to why for the time being the Bored Chair is also our acting Vice Chair.
Our treasurer, if we ever need one, is TBD.

Since there are 28 more of us, the remaining we will list:

Rep. of Elements ……… carbon (charcoal)
Rep. of Molecules ……… protein (hair from A)
Rep. of Tissues ……… bone (or A's baby teeth)
Rep. of Enzymes ……… mushroom tea (reishi)
Rep. of Hormones ……… pill taken when A could more of some
Rep. of Viruses ……… pill taken when A needs a break from them
Rep. of Microflora ……… pill taken when A. I. needs more of them
Rep. of Xenobiotics ……… plastic
Rep. of Intake ……… water (and breath)
Rep. of Output ……… feces from A (and breath)
Rep. of Touch ……… cat fur
Rep. of Companion Species ……… budgie feathers
Rep. of Place ……… studio dust (with budgie droppings)
Rep. of Home ……… sap chipped from the aging sides
Rep. of Memory ……… black walnut (carved by a red squirrel whose place it was)
Rep. of Fear ……… twig from a flat place
Rep. of Dreams ……… copper wire
Rep. of Secrets ……… blood from A 
Rep. of Ghosts ……… the stone
Rep. of Spaces ……… paint can
Rep. of Heritage ……… gunpowder
Rep. of Homo Sapiens ……… headless bee
Rep. of Sexuality ……… hammer and nails
Rep. of Gendering ……… young compost
Rep. of Paradoxes ……… pokeweed
Rep. of In-Un-humanity ……… what are behind the curtains
Rep. of Wildness ……… fire
Rep. of Friendship ……… wool cable sweater

Thank you for being witness. The meeting is open. Remember we are not metaphors.

Inaugural Members’ Meeting
[Corporation Name] Board of Directors
December 21st, 2019
New Haven, Connecticut

** As we read, I moved closer to the individuals I was addressing (the assembled materials above the fireplace), sat in the folding yellow chair, underneath from which a projection showed into the fireplace. At the conclusion of introductions, I removed my cable knit sweater, moved off of the chair and began to mingle with the board members, guiding them in physically meeting one other. These meetings had a range of intensities and involved, among other actions, our Rep of Dreams and Rep of Friendship forming an impromptu projection screen, our Rep of Molecules and Rep of Touch stirring, soaking up and then mixing other members into new groups. The Reps of Secrets and Contradictions and others with more fluid dispositions helping spread ideas from one place to another. And when things got tight, that cable sweater holding it all together. **


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