[-empyre-] control and cutting, photographing

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Oct 26 07:08:34 EST 2012


[Alan schreibt]
I think of ultimate control as leading (as in category theory, which I'm
trying now to understand) to a _terminal object,_ which absorbs everything
- cutting is among many other relevant things, an exerting of control over
the body, but it also reduces the body to a cipher; catatonia is another

there is much here that seems true. and loss and control seem of course at odds,
with one another intimately, so that cutting oneself is a risk and a gamble one plays
with loss, and also with self promotion, self-reinsurance.  

in the political context of "extraordinary rendition"  i briefly mentioned on Monday,
i find little room for the detained and tortured men (i am assuming mostly men were
captured, but i do not have exact figures) to gamble except by confessing what they
might think their torturers want to hear, or be prepared to suffer and get killed.

having the task to teach body practices, i engaged extendedly today in the traces, this
perhaps strange-looking history in the west*  of body-artists cutting themselves, bleeding,
writing with their blood, draining themselves, having themselves shot at or buried or suspended in air and water,
suffocated, hurt, damaged, defaced, violated.  many many of these were women; some were feminists,  queer
artists, artists of color drawing attention to race and racialized violence and trauma, a subject that rarely is addressed here either.

in fact silence is an issue we rarely discuss or want to address; well, I did ask the moderators a few days ago whether this
month can be considered a relatively silent month? a cutting month.

no doubt some of these self-lacerations mentioned are risk-takings in protest,
they activate (control) provoking power, they accept losing, and they promote being remembered,
they want to be recalled, witnessed.

so somehow the loss of control can only be also a gain here, a calculated gain, Abramovic's night sea crossings.
(Ulay lost out, in history, it seems)

 but how, evoke history?  

Johannes Birringer

*[i am less familiar with live art having been practiced in asia, australia or latin america, though I remember a brutal 3 day performance in the 1990s
by the Peruvian group Chaclacayo, which was very disturbing & unforgettable, and I also remember Mike Parr down under nailing himself against the wall] 

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