project image
Alex Toner

first performed on August 17, 2018
Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC
performed once in 2018


New York, NY


A body of work is the body of the performer, and this performance interrogated the idea of the body of the performer as a record, the bodies of all people as records of those people. Although I had planned only the outlines of the performance beforehand, the opening sentence I knew: “The body is a record of the body.”

Speaking to a body of people consisting primarily of archivists (people who care for records of historical value), I presented an interwoven story of human bodies as records and of those bodies encountering and addressing bodies of records. The performance conceptualized the scars upon a body as an amalgamated record of the life that body had lived. At the beginning and end of this performance, I identified each scar upon my body, showing the audience the locations of those to give them an outline of the text of my own body. The performance essentially read to them the text of my body as nothing more than a conglomeration of ruptures of my skin.

The performance identified each of the scars of any body as accounts of destruction, and I intimated that records themselves were also accounts of such destruction, accounts that blackened the paper holding them. All the records I described during the performance were filthy or destroyed or in danger of degradation or destruction.

In the performance, mine was the body of record, so I performed at the edge of the stage, my feet sometimes curling over that edge, my frame almost leaning into the audience, so that the presence of that record before them would envelope them just as my voice was. I performed without correcting my vision, ensuring I would not see the audience clearly, so that their bodies would be concepts to me rather than distinct realities. The record of their bodies I could not know.

The performance occurred only once, because unlike a record a performance does not persist outside the time it takes for it to come into being.