ARMS, LEGS, FINGERS
“Arms, Legs, Fingers” is a performance I did as part of a show of three of my paintings. The paintings were large renderings of my vagina, with rectangular forms cut out of the paintings at the vaginal opening, and covered with curtains, turning the vulva into a frame for a stage. The paintings-turned-stages hung on freestanding walls allowing me to perform through the paintings. The first act, performed with my arms and simple props, is a story about a child being made aware of her bodily difference through the reproach of a friend’s mother. In the next act I was seated on a pedestal that allowed me to perform with my legs. Using two different socks I told the story of a sexual encounter between two preadolescent women. The final act, performed by my gloved fingers, begins with a narrative about a couple of college students on spring break and then opens up to become the most essayistic of the three acts, weaving ideas about the body from psychoanalysis, science fiction, and philosophy through current events—namely the Kavanaugh / Ford hearings and proposed changes to Title IX.
“Arms, Legs, Fingers” is a fragmented and fantastic coming of age story that takes up the limits of language and the material body as a space of play and ultimately uses the vagina to propose an understanding of gender that is speculative, queer, and multiple. My script from the final act ends, “In science fiction moral dilemmas often surround questions about the essential nature of humanity; from this it follows that the motivating anxiety of many of its characters is the preservation of the human race. But if there is a god—and this according to another Octavia Butler heroine, Lauren Oya Olamina—surely it is change. If the aliens come I will rush to the front of their breeding line, tossing my humanity behind me like an expired metrocard. We might begin laughing in imitation, a repetition with a parodic difference, but let’s not stop till our laugh reaches such a pitch that it blows out the windows. Crawl out onto the street, find truth and hold back her hair while she pukes. Seize the means of production and make names that explode into multiplicities rather than reify into binaries, produce bodies with tentacles, tentacles with orifices. I want an alien baby and no other.”