What remains disappears: a sculpture
“The work was durational and the writing on the body which operated both as metaphor and as performative act: the active reclaiming or taking control over the female body through an action rather than passively being written upon by the wider culture.”
Katye Coe and Frank Bock
What remains disappears: a sculpture is a durational performance where I cover my own body with layers of clay and text.
I started to write in my body as a daily practice without any other expectation than the action in itself. I soon realised that this practice evoked an embodied history: that through this practice I was both remembering and being.
Clay was interesting to me, not only for its viceral materiality, but also because in thin layers it would dry quickly and point out the passage of time. The writing with the ink is a continuous action, no rhythm, no editing; just words that through the movement on my hand, come out of me.
In using my bare female body as the material in which layers of clay and text would remain, many questions, concerns and anxieties appeared in my mind concerning the presentation of my young female body. The knowledge that my body in its entirety was going to be exposed to the eye of the spectator, created a very clear first thought: I did not want it to be received as desirable. However, this raised the question of whether that is even possible for a young woman in contemporary culture.
Through this process, I understood with much more clarity that as a performer, even if I want to articulate something specific, my body is never solely my own: it is as well part of a system of representations of bodies. What do I do then, when I have realised that my body is not mine? That is, that my body carries an inescapable cultural and social history and therefore the way is read does not depend entirely on my actions. As a young female performer, how do I present my body explicitly, when images of women are so saturated with a particular erotic content? Is there space for me to perform naked without carrying all the baggage of what it means to be a young woman?
This performance was, among other things, a statement that even if my body has a very narrow history of representations, I can transgress that and open more possibilities. It was the statement that a young female body does not equals an object of desire. That I have the agency too of writing on my own body.
What remains disappears: a sculpture, 8th February 2018, The Place, London.
Creation and performance: Coral Montejano Cantoral
Materials: Clay, ink, water, my body.
Photo credits: Despina Patsika