Class Tutor Journal: Virginia Kennard

2019 MAP tutor journals 

Virginia kennard

MAP Tutor Journal

We’ve got a wonderful team of tutors that run our weekly classes.

We’ve invited them to share some insight into their current practice and thinking.

Writing as a practice to make movement as a practice to research the body as a practice to make performance as a practice.

New performance solo ‘Eating Skin From Off My Fingers’,
by Virginia Kennard, 2019.

“Please don’t forget: I am my body…I am one piece.”
(West, 2015)

We are body practitioners – as dancers, choreographers, movement artists, our medium is the body. We place our bodies in space and manipulate them – how they look, how they feel, how we feel, for an art form that is primarily visual but also kinaesthetic in a way other media are not
and cannot be.

I am interested in the way we refer to being in our bodies: as if our bodies are somehow separate from ourselves. How we look at our bodies, judge our bodies, in a way that we may notintrinsically judge our minds.

I am interested in how historically, the Cartesian dualism of the immaterial mind and the material body has been used to confirm gendered difference in terms of the intelligent rational man (driven by the mind) and the feeling irrational woman (lead by the body).

I am interested in the boundaries of the body, the potentialities of the becoming body, the ontological body, the cyborgian body, the socioeconomic aesthetics of the body. The way we use the body to construct identities and selfhood, whilst simultaneously acknowledging the body as ‘other’, my self as ‘other’, “my embodied self as always already other.” (Cohen , 2004)

I am interested in how the body is a metaphor for so many things, that these metaphors are used in everyday life to exert power over bodies, and that the body is constantly used as a
vehicle for shame.
For example, the body as
● Territory
● Landscape
● Architecture
● Canvas

I am interested in the ways the body is described physically or anatomically. For example, the body as
● Fleshy vessel
● Biological object
● Cyborg
● Skin sack
● Organ incubator
● Meat sack
● Skeleton coat

I am interested in the ways the body is described as having or not having agency that can politicize something. That the body of woman is used over which to enact political ideology. Forexample, the body as
● A site of resistance
● A site for grief
● A site for trauma
● A site of activisim
● A site to incite revolution
● A DISRUPTIVE POWERHOUSE (Gorman, 2017)
● A community

I am interested in disrupting what is done to the body. For example, the body as
● Consumed
● Conquered
● Occupied
● Objectified
● Sexualised
● Desired
● Controlled
● Mediated
● Pacified
● Monitored
● Quantified
● Surveilled

“The shape of my body forms the negative space of a world which i cannot inhabit.” (rqqu.tumblr.com, 2019)

I am interested in “the bounded, knowable, normative body” (Moore, 1996) and disrupting the need to make any or all bodies normative. I am uninterested in assimilation, and realise the limitations of seeking a language of inclusion. I am interested in privilege and the politics of passing.

I am interested in how the body in feminism carries the responsibility for so much. The fight for full bodily autonomy and the right to “occupy our bodies as undisputed territory” is a “demand to extend this to the right to occupy all other spaces in the same autonomy: the right to dispute land occupation the right to dispute property as a patriarchal construct, etc”. The body as a “site of dispute” is then responsible for “the community, the border, the colony” (Dzodan, 2019). This
frightens me, that the body must accept this burden.

I am interested in the body as data.

I am interested in the ever-changing nature of the body, how from moment to moment the blood pumps the oxygen flows the synapses fire the neural pathways shift the muscles contract making the state of our bodies consistently unrepeatable.

I am interested in what is beneath the surface of the body. “Where phenomenology attends to the tactile, vestibular, kinaesthetic and visual character of embodied reality” (Ahmed, 2007), there are racial, gendered, and historical dimensions that allow us to consider the body below its visible existence within space. I use my body as a tool to research all the above areas of knowing the body. How can i ever know this body? My own body? Does dance and movement have the capacity to unpack and perform these notions of the body or am i already doomed to fail? Can bodily representations of existential discourse even help?

I am interested in how ominous the desire for knowledge of a body can be. “We know nothing about a body until we know what it can do, in other words, what its affects are, how they can or cannot enter into composition with other affects, with the affects of another body, either to destroy that body or to be destroyed by it, either to exchange actions and passions with it or to join with it in composing a more powerful body” (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004). I am interested in where the power of knowing a body lies. 

I am interested in more things, for example
● The body as conceptual unit.
● What my body does as a self-structuring identity.
● The sexed sexy sexualised body
● The desiring desirable body

Where does it end? Where does my body end? The edges of my body might be tangible but the ways i think about my body are boundless. “Existence is no longer enclosed in the body…We are completely outside ourselves, and the world is completely inside us” (Herndon, 2019). What can i expect from the dance that emerges from this body to embody this, to respect this, to know this? I am scared for the body.

MAP Tutor Journal
Virginia Kennard
Intermediate Tutor
Saturdays 9.30 – 10.45am
Hagley Studios

Words by Virginia Kennard
Image Credits: 

Virginia Kennard – ‘Moral Panic’, TV3 Story 2016
Virginia Kennard – ‘am i ever gonna be enough?’ Daisy Petley
Willow Newey – ‘I appreciate you immensely’ Essi Airisniemi
Marika Pratley  – ‘I appreciate you immensly’ Essi Airisniemi
Virginia Kennard & Tom Steer – ‘Were you Smitten?’, Bella Murray-Nag

Bibliography
Ahmed, S. (2007) ‘A phenomenology of whiteness’, Feminist Theory, 8(2), pp. 149–168.
Cohen E. (2004). ‘My self as an other: on autoimmunity and “other” paradoxes.’ Medical
Humanities; 30:7-11.
Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. (2004). A thousand plateaus: capitalism and
schizophrenia. London: Continuum.
Dzodan, F. (@redlightvoices). 5/5/2019, 21.22. Tweet.
Gorman, S. (2017). Interview with Lauren Barri Holstein. [online] readingasawoman.
Available at:
https://readingasawoman.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/interview-with-lauren-barri-holstein/
[Accessed 26 August 2017].
Herndon, H. (2019). ‘Extreme Love (with Lily Anna Hayes and Jenna Sutela)’, PROTO.
4AD. CD.
Moore, L. (1996). ‘Teledildonics’, Sexy Bodies: The Strange Carnalities of Feminism,
edited by Elizabeth Grosz and Elspeth Probyn, p104.
rqqu.tumblr.com, accessed 22/5/2019
West, L. (2016). Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman. First edition. New York: Hachette
Books, p15.