GESTURE TOWARDS WATER
In their introductory essay “Has the Queer Ever Been Human?,” Dana Luciano and Mel Y. Chen analyze the work of the late photographer Laura Aguilar. In their reading of her photograph, “Grounded #114,” they state that the figure, seated and facing away from the camera in front of a large earthy object, “cannot be easily categorize[d]: sex, gender, race, age are obscured by its position.” Further stating that to assume the body is “‘simply’ a body” would “depend on assumptions about what a ‘proper body’ looks like and what it can do.” Further into their analysis they state, “Aguilar performs this refusal [of opening the female body to appropriation by the viewer or to position itself as the object of the male gaze] by mimicking a boulder … the very nonhuman fold where some would place her, displacing the centrality of the human itself.”
“Gesture Towards Water” follows the trail made by Aguilar, and many others, in taking seriously the possibility of subjecting oneself to the nonhuman—towards the capacity of the queer body to shift—pass—between human and inhuman. Using water to compose the shape of the performer, “Gesture Towards Water” is an exercise in shifting between these two worlds.
There is a glass jar filled with water centerstage. The performance begins with removing my socks and shoes, and stepping onto the stage. I remove my belt, tying my hands behind my back. In an attempt to move the jar up my standing body, using one foot, my body collapses towards the stage. Lying on the stage, the jar is manipulated, brought to my mouth and opened with my jaw, spilling the water on myself and the space. I drag my body across the spilled liquid in an attempt to further subject myself to the shape of water—before returning the jar to centerstage, standing, removing the bondage and putting my shoes on. I exit.