In order to explore a new space, I radically altered my physical form. Staring in 2011, I physically trained my body to lose over 160 pounds. Changing my behaviors, my physical appearance and internal organs. The dramatic changes to my body have given way to a new sense of awareness. Previously, I was often “invisible” as a morbidly obese woman, at times overlooked or ignored. I was a headless figure. Now “passing” comments are made about my physical appearance, and people make eye contact. Previously whispered remarks about obesity are said openly about others.
“South Carolina Drivers License” was a secret performance at the Department of Motors Vehicles in Charleston. When applying for a license, I was quietly asked, “What is your weight?” I told the woman 427 pounds. (This is the weight recorded on my license.) I was not questioned when I posed as a woman more than 200 pounds my weight. These performances are a way to operate subversively within culture, collecting moments and emotions undetected, privately and publicly.
I believe that dieting is a process, an additive and reductive form of sculpting in an attempt to build the perfect sculpture. Secret performances of weight loss and body image alteration are a way to move back and forth between my former body and its new form. In the performance Building the Perfect Sculpture, I used my body as a “sculpture,” posing with plaster casts, replicated after classical antique beauties, all Venus’s, in a museum gallery setting. In an attempt to advert the gaze, I subvert the notions of classic beauty by adding my form to the conversation and rising to a newly empowered space.
Castings are evidence of the space the body defined for a moment; they show a passage through time. Capturing the space between the body, I maneuver through a private area unnoticed. Collecting these moments that the body once assumed, focusing on the visceral and instinctive reactions to the body’s perception of space and occupation of space. Activating the memory of mud squishing through the toes, the shape that a piece of gum becomes while it’s chewed or a passing comment that lingers in your mind. They are the last private areas of the body, the “spaces between,” such as The Space Between My Two Big Toes and The Space Under My Toes. Using these insignificant moments I attempt to make them monumental.
I’m looking for answers regarding spatial relationships: between the interior and exterior of the body and between our perception of space and our occupation of it. The dynamics of the body, the way changing weight, is a form of making and process. Examining how the body fits into its skin, how our skin holds the body together, its folds, its interior and exterior curves and edges.