Sever and Suture: On the History and Future of Anatomical Dissection (in three parts), for the Museum Blog at the International Museum of Surgical Science
“I’m attempting to grapple with the loss. Loss of information, loss of intention, loss of subject, loss of story. The death of a beautiful thing is…complicated. It leaves me riddled with holes. It never belonged to me but I ache to know to whom. I feel detached and unsure of how to continue. I feel unstable, wounds left open in the hopes that air and time have the power to suture the space between knowing and not knowing
The historical use of unconsented cadavers for medical exploration is fraught with the consistent disregard and objectification of what we consider to be sacred – human life and the body which contains it. I return to my original questions, does medicine grieve the people once housed by the bodies it dissects? Is there space for negotiation? Who will suture the cuts, mend the holes? Who will preserve the dignity of the dead?”
This three-part essay was written as a part of my time working as the Library Intern at the International Museum of Surgical Science. After cataloguing a plethora of obstetrics books with sometimes shocking and jarring imagery of dissected fetuses and pregnant bodies, I felt compelled to investigate further on the history and future of cadaver acquisition for anatomical dissection. These three parts address the historic exploitation of poor, enslaved, and marginalized bodies as well as providing thoughts and insights on the topic of mending traumas of the violations done in the name of science. Here you can access each part of the essay as they were posted on the Museum Blog: Part I, Part II, and Part III.
A seed amongst flesh...(I), co-written by Violet Eckles-Jordan
"Tannaz: You are in every speck of red I see. In every scab I pick. In every bruise that heals. You are in everything that stops me in my tracks and transforms my day. You are the thing I fixate on when on the train and feeling nauseous. You are the feeling in my stomach as I fall. You are in every moment that is inexplicably calm and frightening all at once. You are in every song I’ve ever sung.
Violet: I am water.
Tannaz: You are a perfect red tomato, left on the sidewalk.
I’m in love with the world even if it is not in love with me.
Violet: I am water."
A seed amongst flesh...(I) is the first iteration of a series of performative works exploring a blissfully dysphoric relationship to being in the world. This text was performed live at Obst in Chicago, IL as part of a reading event entitled, “Mouth as is a kiln” (April 7th, 2018.)
"I am not a virgin because I’m a prude, I’m just waiting to be entered by something like God. I’m selfish, dedicated to myself...sometimes I’m in love with myself, and for now my hand is my God entering me." p. 21
In Search of Gods was written as an Undergraduate Thesis in the Visual and Critical Studies Department of the School for the Art Institute of Chicago.
Abstract: This paper seeks to explore the relationships between science, technology, faith, and pleasure through investigating examples of self-willed and self-actualizing reproduction. The specific examples explored are the Immaculate Conception and virgin birth of the Virgin Mary, virgin birth in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s utopic novel Herland, contemporary discourse around the artificial womb, and Pinar Yoldas’ Speculative Biologies. By exploring these alternative forms of reproduction, certain claims about human nature’s innate desire to (pro)create are made. Using personal narrative throughout, I attempt to argue that the ability to reproduce and the act of reproduction, in both a figurative and literal sense, are also experiences of self actualization towards better self-knowing/being-within-one’s-self.
"Here lies the space of transgression – the friction between what we know and the unknown future/present. Like the failing two-way glass that is my iPhone screen, we find ourselves on the edge of possibility in what is still impossible..."
Virgin Mobile: intimations_of_cellular-asexual_reproduction is a short personal essay; later influencing the larger text, In Search of Gods; explores the way growing up alongside the advent of smart-phones and laptops propelled my ability to discover a kind of sexuality that was consistently internal and self-eroticizing.
Close Enough, co-written by Violet Eckles-Jordan
Two sets of eyes morphing into one, I am now sitting, watching the synchronicity build as the two learn to dart around, observing everything together – complete vision. I believe these are our eyes, but I’m not sure, they are not very familiar."
This text was written in collaboration with Violet Eckles-Jordan over the course of a couple of months. We wrote small vignettes about the people we encountered during those months, writing back and forth, using each other's text to influence our choices. The text was read during a performance at the Her Environment show entitled Homonyms at Comfort Station. In the performance, I was on Skype with Violet who was in another location. Each of us were paired with a tattoo artist who was stick-n-poking us with the same tattoo, however only the tattoo artist with me had the drawing to use as reference. Violet's tattoo artist was forced to copy the image as it was being created on my skin and subsequently poke it onto Violet. The image we had tattooed was a simplified diagram of the six degrees of separation concept.
...fantasies are wild and reckless things and I often lose control, revised script co-written by Violet Eckles-Jordan
"Last night I dreamt a parasite had entered my body through my belly button. The pain of its entrance was sharp, but quick. I felt it roam around my insides, it’s little tail laying eggs as it travelled. The little eggs hatched and multiplied inside me. It was warm, like this...Do you feel it??"
This piece was originally created as a space for Violet and I to think through our pregnancy fantasies by trying to relate our unique and specific experiences with wanting children/wanting to be pregnant/and wanting to give birth to an innate desire in all humans to (pro)create. In this performance lecture, we made the argument that due to the inaccessibility of the physical and psychological experience of birthing and pregnancy to be experienced by all bodies, as well as the institutionalization of pregnancy and the pregnant body, human beings often respond through fear, fantasy, desire, and fetish of the act of birth itself.