Thinking about Bodies & Control

I am looking toward the Opening of Chaotic Bodies this Thursday at Mile Zero Dance – and not surprisingly, I am thinking a great deal about relationship, space, and how our bodies convey information.

What we communicate with gesture and movement is so vital to our understanding – to meaning-making – but also to the way and amount of space we occupy.

All this to say: one of the things I wanted to consider in the creation of Chaotic Bodies was how bodies communicate ideas of control, balance, containment, connection, release … .

And then I came across the amazing work of artist/metalsmith Jennifer Crupi.

Ornamental Hands: Figure One (Shown worn) sterling silver, 15″ x 8.5″ x 5.5″ Permanent Collection, Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum ©Jennifer Crupi

So much food for thought here: the controlled gesture. The canonization of particular movements that render them significant, understood as physical language that conveys information through relationship to other, to space.

Power Gesture
aluminum, steel, acrylic, laser print, vellum,
8″ x 8″ x 6″
Power Gesture is an implement that requires the user to assume the authoritative “steepled fingers” gesture. This position exudes confidence and is often used by one who has the upper hand in a situation. Psychologists believe assuming a posture or gesture will make one feel as they would if they did the gesture naturally. So for a confidence boost, Power Gesture is the implement of choice. © Jennifer Crupi

I find the language here telling too. The Power Gesture object requires the user to assume a particular position, as do all of these sculptural objects:  (con)forming to set positions to send a message.

Pondering further: if we wish to convey information bodily, how do we control or contain that which we wish to remain hidden? What if we can’t? What if our actions in space and in relationship express or reflect what we see around us, rather than what we feel? Or conversely: what if we cannot help but express the uncontrollable within us?

These thoughts & questions, amongst others, have informed the work in Chaotic Bodies. I have no fixed answers – but am enjoying the journey through the questions.

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