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the “good” body/a query of queries

For MICE, i’m offering two audio excerpts from the "good" body/a query of queries: a performative lecture expressing personal insights and poeticsexcavated from the profound legacies ofthe African diaspora, disability culture andtheir interwoven aesthetic; instigating further dialogue surrounding the current social and political tensions present today. As a queer disabled cisgendered artist of color, i am committed to exposing the nuances of theintersectional body as an inherent reflection ofhumanity; while questioning the historicalcontexts in which live art is interpreted.

These two audio excerpts are reflections fromthree iterations of the larger lecture i’ve shared with: Middlebury College in Vermont; Gallery 400 at University of Illinois Chicago; and Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

i begin with breath to express the legacy of how certain bodies made it to this part of the world;then make space for questioning the kind ofphysical type we consider as “healthy”, “well” or“normal”. In tune with “being in the moment”, the audiotracks have slight variations from the texts.These variations are highlighted in each notedexcerpt.

 

breaths

 

Breaths
How the body begins
our breath
Your breath
We breathe deeply
the breath
as beginning to being
This breath
These breaths that moved the body
The body that moves souls
Bodies moving souls across time
across the waves of the Oceanica
from the sensations of Africa
ebbing and flowing among the h2o
The body this body these bodies... .
on top of other bodies
shifted
our breath, our spirit, our souls, these bodies
carried by ships...
body endured disease, months on end in 3x3,
chained, breaking the physical body,
a body made broken a broken body the body
disabled body, a body disabled,
This goodly body
through the bowels of the underbelly
still rises
the legacy of disability blending with the
legacy of forced migration
the black body
still rises
finds self on new land
land discovered by supposed and well intentioned
good bodies
stripped from truly good bodies
indigenous bodies
welcoming bodies
displaced bodies
forced to subterranean depths
these bodies mixed
With black bodies
Nations of bodies
Creating new bodies
These bodies.... Multiply
Breathe forth a hybrid body
A new type of body
Flowing between here and there...
across the waters
around the world the black body is marketed sold
and showcased
desired and exploited, caged and displayed in
freak shows among other odd bodies...
in Americas, the body, the black body, the
enslaved black body toils
cuts cane, picks cotton, pulls a bale of hay
it is a GOOD body for working in the fields, for
sexing
, for producing other bodies for working,
for pleasing, for selling, for lashing beneath
skin to bare flesh
laying us bare
and soulful
This hybrid body
this colonized body
Made to be broken
but we continued to break free
Moving from west to east
south to north
looking to the stars
and a cosmology of destiny
finding light
finding jazz
oozing blues
Forging a spiritual path
through the rite of depression
segregation
Integration
assimilation
enlightened oppression
With a strong will to be heard
to be a full body, not 1/8th a citizen’s body
A fully good citizen body
our singular body
part of a larger communal body
Made visible
moving together as one good body
Transformed into
a violated body
a body to be
spit upon
hosed
knocked down
face down
exposed
to violence...
a litany of black lives
a litany of black bodies
a litany of indigenous lives
a litany of indigenous bodies
a litany of brown lives
a litany of brown bodies
falling
a cacophony of disabled bodies
trans bodies
women’s bodies
queer bodies
bodies
falling
onto the streets
bodies deemed bad never good
that's why they're disposable
just put body bags in rows
the numbers grow
with chokehold grips
so strong
i can’t breathes
were not enough
not holding a real gun
was not enough
cries soaked in tears
not good enough
illin
being mentally ill
was not good enough
being feminine young or old
fully dressed or fully exposed
wasn’t good enough
submissive
hands up
Arms held
Necks gripped
bodies policed to death
Till once again
The communal body must rise
building and increasing
the voices of
all kinds of bodies
The bodies of all kinds folk

Putting their individual body on the line
Disrupting the status quo’s flow
wherever we go... breathing...
And this is an unfinished legacy 
the “good” body

 

what is a “good” body

 

what is a good body? does it have a certain color? Racial background? is it thin? large? does it have a certain kind of size or shape? does it have a gender? does its gender matter? is it about a sexuality? an orientation? a perception of either?  is it about how straight i look?  how queer i am? how queer i decide i want to look? That my gender, sexuality, orientation has to look or be a certain way?

what does it take to make a good body? is is it about good genes? Inherited traits? A material wealth and status? Or an inner way of being in the world? An attitude? A swagger? is it about how i navigate space? Inhabit and occupy space? Is it about a “presence”? A type of physicality? is it about the way i stand? do i need to be able to stand to have a good body? do i need be able to move about on two feet, to have hands, torso, legs, vagina, penis…?

what does it mean to have a good body?

Is it about a kind of health? Mental, physical, spiritual health? Can i be sick, chronically ill and have a good body? Can i be disabled and have a good body?  does someone need to tell me i have a good body in order for me to have a good body?  you’ve got the good hair. Good bone structure. the good teeth. Great smile. the perfect lips. That beautiful round bubble butt. Is that what makes a good body?