MY LIFE AS A BIRD
KIM DOAN QUOC
“My Life as a Bird” is a performance in which I tattoo a line crossing my chest. There is a projection of a video of an exotic bird being trapped in the background. We can always hear the bird chirping during the performance. The tattoo gun triggers the appearance of the following text on the video:
“Do you think I’m beautiful?
Do you like to look at me?
Do you want me to come to your apartment?
Maybe you want me?
Is it permanent?
Does it hurt?
It looks bad.
This is not for you.
But you can watch me.
I just want to make sure that you know.
This line is not for you.”
This piece was a radical act of appropriation of my own body.
As an “exotic bird,” and like so many other women, I often find myself being read as an ornament of the public space. I meet people who think it is appropriate to give opinions about my ornamental skills or try to make me follow them to their house/bar/car because they are satisfied with those ornamental skills. Often, they then feel insecure that I am not honored by the proposition and they end up grossly/violently slutting me out.
Tattoo being a form of body ornamentation, I thought that stroking my breast could be an effective way to trace on my body that I am the only one to decide how ornamental it should be. As an exotic bird, I hope that the patterns on my body will inform my surroundings about my abilities to fight back when boundaries are crossed.
The tattoo is a simple line, it is a free-hand graphic statement about how I am now deciding to draw a big black thick line between my boobs. I do it in public and you can watch me. If you think it is dumb, sexy, or a waste of breast, that is your problem.