Bienalle Arte and Bienalle Danza, Venice 2022
By Allyn Aglaïa
Chest bound, lips sealed, I walked through Venice alone, quiet, and:
thought about narratives that bind
what binds us to each other
the woven grass net of the Silver Lion winner’s dance
the knots in the laundry lines outside my window
((someone I never spoke to again.))
how far will it stretch before you lose me forever.
and the line of discourse.
the binding of a crypt in one’s chest
the binding of a chest
I have body dysphoria that worsens when I bleed.
I tie my chest in knots, only then.
I find myself estranged from “the queer community.” I find some queers normative in the shapes of their deviance. I take self portraits where I wonder how these loud, outspoken, highly identified “men” queersplain me. I once thought I loved a “non-binary” beauty who still used the word “bi-sexual” which rang so foreign to my ears, I.
It’s 2022 aren’t we all queer? I have said. (This could be the curatorial one-liner of Cecilia Alemani’s Biennale Arte 2022, The Milk of Dreams. Milk. Dreams.)
I’m always more angular than my lovers, and I always love their hips. ((Except for the one hetero relation I’ve ever had, hetero because he insisted, though, it didn’t take long to uncover his wish to be me and his horrific fear of that wish. He was the only one I let call me woman, by then. The whole thing was a past life re-incarnate, a last gasp grasp to see if I could string together an unraveled past.))
The non-binary beauty loves to talk about binding, though, which is important.
They don’t mean my chest. They mean the Freudian notion of that which ties us. ((This presumes individuated subjects between which there are ties.)) They are not my lover. My lover wrote on how I write on a much deeper notion of interconnectivity that has nothing to do with ties between two stable selves. They wrote: I don’t know who is who. I am writing a thesis on the inter-relation embedded in the “is”. Wait for the essay on ventriloquy. Wait for ocean space.
I, chest bound, in the Arsenale, felt such relief to find Eglé Budvytyté’s video, Songs from the Compost: mutating bodies, imploding stars.
Bodies growing lichen, yes, gender abolition, yes, but more so the bound chested beauty with an umbilical cord coming out of them. On the shore, birthing and bound.
Ocean wave, birthing something, gently, something, bound to the inside, umbilical cord exposed, peaceful, half bound, bound internally bound to your uterus bound to, here, on the shore on the sand, feet around fetus. They lay among the trees and prune each other’s hair.
((Do you consent to coalesce?
(Date à préciser) Du latin coalēscō, formé d’alēscō (« se répandre ») avec le préfixe co-.
(Littéraire) (Figuré) Se souder, fusionner, se combiner, s’unir, coalescer.
The droplets coalesced into a puddle.
… when a thing’s own light and the light from something else coalescing into one on bright and smooth surfaces produce a form which yields a perception reversed from the way a thing normally looks. – Platon, Sophist, 2005, traduction de Lesley Brown.
alēscō, infinitif : alēscere, parfait : alēscī (défectif)
De alesco (« croître ») avec le préfixe co-.
coalescō, infinitif : coalescere, parfait : coaluī, supin : coalitum
– Croître ensemble, s’unir en croissant.
– Prendre racine, se développer.))
Do you consent to be woven into my body; do you consent to be lichen; do you consent to weave me into you; will it frighten me when my words fall from your mouth; will it frighten me when they don’t; if I swallow your depression will I remember my dreams; will you lose me when I see who you are interweaving with now; when you speak to those I cannot stomach; are you familiar with the brilliant panoply inside of me; is it different to write than to kiss.
I bind when I bleed because my chest overflows its banks, my body feels unfamiliar and it lasts for weeks waiting to crest. I started tracking this progress—how can I have only two weeks when a body feels familiar enough to be forgettable? When I swell and crest and break am I irreparably erupting each time? I spent over a decade blocking this process and I probably will start again. Closeted hormone therapy; sexualized femininity. I don’t want to cut this body that has already been so sliced and slivered with dis-identification. I wonder why we gender anyone at all.
Molina’s dance, she won the Silver Lion at the Biennale Danza 2022, is called Carnación.
Carnation as in the flesh, carne, as in incarnate, as in to be bodied, to be embodied. ((My gender is spirit amazed to be embodied, isn’t this visible?)) to note being incarnate — in the flesh, is to note that which is in the flesh, is to reference of course, Christ as God incarnate, as in, all of us.
First, suspended from a chair, voluminous tutu that forms a sculpture over her body as she binds her self around the lines of the chair, suspended in the air, sliding to the floor, climbing back atop the chair, sliding to the floor, crumpled, crumbling, climbing back atop the chair, sliding to the floor…
Later, the same motion, with a lover. The lover standing, she, binds, him, with her teeth, he, immobile, while she twists and turns. Rope in mouth, tying her lover in knots.
I, arrogant, as always, thought : this isn’t the only kind of love.
Until, later they tussled, pulling, fighting, until finally clasping.
I was in the midst of this bind.
Angry, frustrated because we’re meant to be touching, though I didn’t know it, yet.
For Freud binding is how our libido attaches to anything at all; and this I relate to. For Freud melancholia is the crypt in our center, I can see these lines of energy creating a box, a coffin in our chest.
I often feel unbound, I worry about the ties, the ties that seem to tie me everywhere and yet no where. I have, in this lifetime, cut nearly all ties, to retie a new self. To have space for the self to be the self without the relentless dis-identification. To untie, to unravel, to end with the unraveling which is the ultimate beginning, at a loss in a rigorously informed way ((-Peter Szendy)). I am grateful those words feel old now. I did already the work of unbinding, and now am gently weaving something else, something new, a new self, more recognizable. Is it untrue for being less visible, is this actually less visible? The season changed and suddenly all these woven garments in my closet feel foreign. Time to tie some new shapes.
Molina had ropes and also tulle and also a band in pastel and also the woven basket of a fisher person, turned into a skirt, solid, rigid, she lifted it over head, it destabilized her, she, drifted, danced, fell. Woven. Solid. Bound.
Carnación and the agreement to enter this interweave with someone, this, flagellation, this twisting pulling pushing slapping finally resting. Trying to stay together. By teeth in hair. ((Braided hair.))
“Matter or spirit” ((in-carnate)) “reality appears to us as a perpetual becoming. She makes and unmakes herself, but is never something made.”
(- Bergson, L’Évolution Creatrice).
Synthesis/ diaresis —
I paraphrase the-one-who-is-not-my-lover. For Freud : verbinden — when you invest energy it charges and it binds together — it’s applied to an object, so the other mechanism is the discharge — the disbursal back into eternity
The combination of components or elements to form a connected whole.
e.g. ”the synthesis of intellect and emotion in his work”
“To exhibit anything is to take it together and take it apart.”
We are permitted, indeed obliged to “characterize every statement as synthesis and diaeresis.”
“Binding and separating may be formalized still further to a ‘relating’.”
The one who is not my lover:
We don’t want to mourn because we resist letting the floor slip away
Who are the people in our life
You have to reinvest.
Relationship to someone that doesn’t work, reliving a past person— that’s melancholic.
We have to believe and remember we
Have to believe we can stick together new things that will hold us and support us.
The infinite well of stickiness
((Who is the “I”, then?))
What binds us to a world
((Heidegger, Avital Ronell))
Naming into being
When we stop speaking.
You changed how I speak express think, he said.
Perhaps the highest intimacy is to read one another, I wrote on one, the other read, they are both, here, now.
There are moments when what binds us (me) is so incredibly thin.
Sometimes the thread that pulls me through is so slim it’s
Is it ok that this is my sustenance
I told him, sort of, later, I need this, I needed this. Bon, I need this, but I denied that I needed it, and so I grasped hungrily to the thread of a conversation, one he would not ever take responsibility for, one that overflowed with my words, he, mostly silent, sometimes, a phrase, often a question, sometimes, suddenly poetry, sometimes, suddenly the divine in whose eyes. Later he told me questions are how he keeps feeling when he can’t really feel people. The point is,
And the age of the one who needed that relationship.
A moment that I clutched a string of prayer beads overnight, holding on to something, anything, a life raft.
I feel strange about our strangeness.
Even while I feel better to have detangled my life force from something that felt always like an attachment, at one point, a balm, the one of whom I repeated this isn’t enough and I meant his line of sight, I meant the horizon he ((chooses.))
So now it can return to this, I hope.
Binding, unbinding, re-weaving.
How close the ocean stays.
After we unraveled, or, it was more jarring, as we found the touching everything and the everything else nothing, or, his view in my view made mine otherwise and, yes, it was the alchemy that was the problem. But how is that? It was the alchemy that was addictive, or. inside // outside // too soon // too long // too far // too late // shouting at the silence // lost without the words.
But it was anyway many awakenings:
That I do need this,
(Which I had denied)
Touch the all of me, touch the whole of me, someone safe enough for this, closes the aura and cleans all the others.
And that I need to knit into my life again, a feeling I had been feeling after the years of drifting.
We weren’t speaking, much, by the time I cancelled a residency and decided to stay here to do that.
Tie together the self
X. was talking about losing her ovaries and I spoke of my life long issue with my uterus
We spoke about life force
And not having children
The conversations I have when my lover isn’t there.
We are listening to a brook
I don’t tell him how soft the sand is so he can be surprised too. But he didn’t notice it when he entered. I noticed that I couldn’t smell him, even when he sat right next to me. But I asked what he was thinking and he said the rhythm the brook made and, I wanted to hear inside his hearing ((Szendy)). Is this enough.
The androgynies slide down a sand dune. Their bodies turn to moss. They bind a hoody to their skull.
I, bound chest, bound head, feel found.
The earthware smells like cinnamon. The stars are softly swirling along the canal. Tattered strands, a new floor. We wove a gift for us.
. . .
Allyn Aglaïa Aumand is a writer, scholar, artist, and curator. Publications include The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Guernica, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Berlin Quarterly, Very Vary Veri of the Harvard School of Design, and many others.
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