Consent, Intent, & Boundaries
My Body is Your Body is Everybody is Nobody: Consent, Intent, & Boundaries is a series of live interactive performances exploring specific methods of touch. Each performance will focus on a specific type of physical interaction: caressing, squeezing, slapping, and kissing. Each performance is expected to last one hour. The artist provides soundtracks designed for each individual performance.
The performer stands in the middle of the space (any appropriate gallery or lobby space). Audience members are provided stations to place their hands in charcoal or gold dust to mark the performer with. Wet naps are provided for clean up. The soundtrack plays through the space for the duration of the performance.
Audience members are directed to physically interact with the performer as prompted by the performance theme. The artist consents to all interactions but reserves the right to stop any interaction that makes her feel unsafe.
At the end of the performance, the artist leaves the space.
A note on the themes and progression of interactions
This work can be more challenging for the audience than the artist. The rationale for each performance builds on the idea that people will attend multiple performances and become more comfortable with interacting with the performer. The interactions: caressing, squeezing, slapping, and kissing are in a progression to build trust and end with affection.
Performance 1: Caress
V: to stroke, touch, fondle, brush, pet, nuzzle
Intent (speed & duration)
Loving, gentle, parental, subjugating, objectifying, dominating, tickling, reassuring
Performance 2: Squeeze
V: to crush or press, to apply pressure, to thrust forcibly, to enclose, to merge or come together
Intent (duration, pressure, & location)
Clasping, clutching, embracing, forcing, holding, hugging, pressing, choking, compressing, jostling, nipping, pinching, squishing
Performance 3: Slap
V: to strike, hit, thump, spank, whack, thwack, wallop, pat, pet,
Intent (speed, pressure, velocity & location)
Playing, flirting, protecting, punishing, admonishing, arousing
Performance 4: Kiss
V: touching or pressing one’s lips against another person or object
Intent (duration, pressure, repetition, & location)
Loving, passionate, sexual attraction, affection, respect, greeting, comforting, healing, nurturing, subjugating, intimidating
A note on consent and relevance to current cultural movements
Touch work tests the boundaries of consent and comfort. Performances are fraught with power dynamics. Our society markets a woman’s body as a commodity to be protected, policed, covered, and used. The My Body is Your Body is Everybody is Nobody thesis is a radical act of rebellion where the artist maintains agency while offering a platform to explore touch.
The role of the audience in performance is a boundary in itself. Instances of touch that could have escalated uncomfortably in the studio are mitigated by the sense of being watched. It is rare that a participant breaks excessive social taboos about touch in the presence of others.
The importance of this work is being echoed in the media. Within the last 5 years, articles have been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, Psychology Today, The New Yorker, University publications, and more, focused on the necessity for touch in human well-being and the crisis we’re facing as our society moves more and more away from acceptable social touch. With bodies being politicized and commodified, hypervigilance around consent, and the rise of the #metoo movement, this work becomes radical in its presentation of a body for a moment of physical connection.