Helene Cixous: "Censor the body and you sensor breath and speech at the same time".
My friend and artist Dragana Jurisic’s instagram acccount was deleted the week of May 7th, with no explanation after the posting of this picture. This photo of a woman sitting in a chair, is one of 100 photos of 100 women who sat in a chair (the same chair) for the 100 Muses, a chapter in Dragana’s evocative and evolving ‘My Own Unknown’.
Dragana had this to say about it on her Facebook page (*Update*: she has since been blocked form posting or commenting on Facebook): “So Instagram went and deleted my account with no warning. It’s troubling - because I used it as a diary and would often refer to it when making work and writing. What’s more troubling is that they can just wipe your presence at any point without explanation. Some friends wrote and said it might be the last image I posted that was in violation of their terms - but if that’s true - the censorship of is beyond believable. The UPDATE is that they removed it permanently and I can’t retrieve any stuff at all.”
I met Dragana in 2016 and soon after that, on a cloudy Saturday in her studio in Dublin, I too, sat in and on this chair, put my weight on it; I think about that afternoon, and the movements of my body across the two hours in that chair, the time we spent together, all the things she and I spoke about. I carry that afternoon with me, in my body; it was joyful and intimate, and the record of that experience, her photograph of me, my body on the day, is perfect. Her work is engaging, and poetic, sensual and cerebral. I am at a loss to understand the decision reached by Instagram to delete her account.
I wrote about my experience, of being in that chair, of putting my weight on it, for an essay about the body in gorse 8. I am sharing an excerpt from that essay here, because I don’t believe in censoring the body; I’m with Helene Cixous on this: ‘Censor the body and you sensor breath and speech at the same time. Write yourself,’ she says. ‘Your body,’ she says, ‘your body must be heard.’ Here is mine, making some noise, in solidarity with my friend and artist Dragana Jurisic. If you read this and feel the same, please lend your voice and let’s #bringbackdragana #reactivatedragana.
"…I am a woman sitting, sitting in a chair, and the photographer, she pours herself into then, the great stream of action, capturing me in a moment, tick, tick, tick, (insert, by me, of Barthes: ‘cameras were (insert by me: were then, and are now) clocks for seeing’) and then, there is a movement of inch, followed by another, and then, another, until the room is filled with the sound of a thousand inches moving, all at once: the sounds of the trigger, click, click, click, of her finger on the trigger, and then the sounds of the chair under the weight of my body, the sound of the chair yielding, giving in under the weight of my body, and my body, my body moving and changing position in the chair, the shifting of my body and the sounds, the black sounds of the movement of an inch, over and over, the sounds of the movement of a thousand inches all at once, crack, crack, crack, and I recall the body, resurrect it, bring it back from a place my body cannot go back to, and I remember, I re-member, I remember. I remember the taste of those olives, I remember it there, in the smell of sex in the sweet curve of his armpit; I bury my nose there, in the weight of what my body remembers and go back, go back in time to Madrid, remember Madrid and how my body opened, opened everywhere. Back in the chair, I turn my body, a soft angle towards the floor; a tiny shift, the sound of a movement of an inch tick/click/crack and I remember, I re-member, I remember sitting, I remember being a woman sitting, sitting at a kitchen table and writing my body, writing two birds cupped in your hands/bring back the taste of peach to your mouth. The heart is always opening and closing, and I tilt my body another inch tick/click/crack until the soft curves of my breasts yield to the sharp angle and harden against him, for a moment, just a moment, and I imagine the body then, titled by the movement of an inch, until the o and η align, and the pink look, the pink look of a Spartan breastplate splays itself across my chest, a chest in place in a place, and then, with another movement of an inch, the sound of the chair yielding under my weight tick/click/crack and the heart, the heart softening again, softening against him, and what the body remembers: I recall the body, in place in a place, and she captures me then, captures the equilibrium of my body, the equilibrium of a woman, a woman sitting in a chair: in this new equilibrium, the body gives and takes inches, it does not hold back...
…‘Listen to a woman speak at a public gathering’, writes Cixous, ‘She doesn’t speak, she throws her…body forward; she let’s go of herself, she flies; all of her passes into her voice, and it is with her body that she vitally supports the logic of her speech.’ Let me testify, yes, with this bone of a word let me say that the chair is not death or old age; under the weight of the body, a chair yields and yields, and yields. This, my body, is the weight of one; under the weight of one, the chair yielded and it yielded and yielded, and I remember, I re-member, I remember. I remember and I imagine one hundred. One hundred – the sound of one, and then another, and another; one hundred – the sound of one, one hundred times: We cannot be trusted with chairs. We treat chairs the way we treat bodies. We put our weight on them, we do not hold back; we put our weight on them. #whereisdragana #bringdbackdragana #reactivatedragana