12 Jun We came so far for beauty
Written in March 2014. It is almost year ago since last Shibaricon. A year ago since I made a promise to myself and to my partners in rope. A year ago since I had the best time of my life. One of my favorite musicals ask how you can measure the time of a year. I don’t know. I don’t know how. I just know I have kept on going. I just know I have started forgiving myself.
You might have noticed I’ve not posted any photos of what I have tied for a long time. In fact, the last ones I posted where these ones. During Shibaricon 2013 I felt anxious and lost, having worked through some bad times but I was still able to enjoy the con to its fullest. But my ropes were not fitting what I was doing, was feeling strange in my hands and somewhere I found myself not tying with my whole body. It is interesting how my dissociation have worked together with image and surface. How I could not look at a photo without wanting to cut myself out of it. I felt estranged from my partners, because our sessions turned into what it looked like, not what we felt. We are bombarded with fantastic imagery (and not so fantastic) every day through the work that is posted here and else where. Much of it is the same, much of it I allowed to get under my skin.
I decided to take a break from the performative and what I meant with that was to step away from that which was for show, for performing for either a camera or an audience. Decided to stop taking photos of my own sessions, to not perform in front of audiences, to not post any more photo. Photos which were taken were taken by others, and if any were posted, it was done so by rope partners. The one exception was in learning situations, simply because without visual aids I might as well fumble in the darkness.
During the autumn, Karo approached me to ask if I would be interested in performing in Vienna at the Vienna Rope Festival 2014. It was the only offer to perform during that one year period I said yes to. The first times, I felt bad about saying no, feeling as if I should take every opportunity to be ‘seen’, to promote myself, what I love doing with my fantastic partners. Then there came an opportunity to perform at an event I love and I should have wanted it so bad, but I did not. I just wanted to spend time with my friends, not performing, not being on show and it felt great listening to my own no, as it came from my heart and my gut. The same heart and gut that felt good about saying yes to Karo.
Performing on the same stage as Nawashi Kanna was nerve wrecking. It was also one of the biggest honor I’ve ever had. Two queerly identified rope tops on an international rope festival in Europe.
Karo and Barkas have a special place in my heart, even before I met them in person. Someone else who have a special place is a rope partner of mine, Candy, who I’ve only shared rope space with since last summer. We share so many thoughts and feelings about the world in which we live in so that when we sat down to brainstorm about the performance we would do in Vienna, it was like speaking a language that was easy.
The past months, I had been working on being more present, not just with my partner, but also more in my own body, to consciously and intentionally make myself connected from head to toe. It has resulted that I dare more, feeling stronger, more confident. It is a part of an ongoing work which seems to move towards having a sense of self which is rooted in conscious presence, trying to make this body I inhabit not just a shell but a part of me which can be both strong, vulnerable, improved upon but also allowed to fail. Letting the multitudes of the human condition multiply even more and take up space. I had this idea about being faster, stronger, leaner(thinner), tighter, bendier. I have now realised it is more than that. I can become all of those things, but if I don’t forgive myself for when I’m not that, I can never become present. So many times I have expressed about being a work in progress, and wanted to express an apology for how it is not seen, how progress is slow, how you might not notice any change at all. It is because for every strong day, or every week where it moves forward, there comes those pesky realities which kick you down. After having treated my body poorly, and still not being able to treat food as something which can build me up, my immunesystem is not a happy bunny. Stress which I should be able to cope with and all the other things about life I don’t speak of much here likes to kick you in the face repeatedly. Thank you life.
Either way, Candy and I talked about these things, about pressures to conform into certain bodies, about eating disorders, about self images, about self-hatred and about the struggle to resist that which tell us daily how we should be less or different than what we are.
It was through those conversations the idea about making something more than a bondage performance came to be. We wanted to say something, express our struggles with these issues, phrase how toxic a body obsessed society is and the effect those pressures can have. And above all, we wanted to express our resistance, to take up space and ripping those images apart. Literally and figuratively.
Now, as a performance with a political and personal message it can easily become really flat and forced. We chose the music, and very few props to illustrate our points, and hoped that we could somehow heal each other through what we were experiencing in ropes. Or at least get a chance to give a big finger to the ideas we resist on a day to day basis and pull the feels from the audience to go with us on those points.. For some it might have resonated, for some it perhaps did not. That is ok. The point of it, to do it like this, was that for me, it felt truthful and honest to tie like this, to tell a story, to make a point. To do it together with Candy. From the moment I pulled the neck rope to when the magazine (a Cosmopolitan) was ripped apart in front of her, and both of us were crying, it was our bodies, doing fantastic things and I know this is what I want to do. It might not suit everyone, but we are not here to fit in, we are here to make the most of our desires. And I have a small, ego desire to change the world, because every inch we reclaim from these sexist, objectifying, fat-shaming, incapacitating discourses, the more space there is for me to exist, fully, in what ever constellation that might be.
We are survivors in a society that dictates what our bodies should do, should be, should look like, but how far did we really come for what is considered beautiful? How narrow are those corridors and how fast do we have to go through them in order to be considered worthy? 10 year old girls on diets. Young boys with anorexia.
I also wanted to do something where the focus was actually on the bottom, not about how awesome I am that can tie some rope. The amazing thing that you watch when you see a performance is the combined skill, but so very rarely you see performances actually being about bottoms and speaking to them. That is the dangers of the ‘muse’ ideology that we have in the rope community, that rope bottoms become merely vessels for our rope and not active participants. After the performance in this video, I noticed one thing; most of the people coming up and speaking to us afterwards was bottoms and I was floored by the gratitude they expressed. Through the grapevine I heard male rope tops grumbling about it not being technical enough (what ever) but as always, those missed the point. I’m not a technical rigger, I will probably never be so neat to be able to call myself that. And that is ok.
I’m watching the video and there is a sensory memory resurfacing, how Candy’s skin felt as I moved her in the suspension. I also remember how it felt pulling a suspension line and recognising the strength in my upper body, the balance that we could hold. And I like myself. I don’t want to cut my fat arse out of the video, I want it to be there and to take up space. I like parts of myself I have tried to forget and any changes that will be made is because I want more of that. More of myself. In myself. But most of all, I remember her in the ropes. Candy.
In the end, even if so much of this text is about me, me, me, me. That performance was dedicated to all bottoms, everywhere, regardless of shape, size and capabilities. You are not passive muses that we can objectify, you are stronger than all of us riggers and you deserve to take up much more space than you are currently being given.
To all switches out there; that goes for you to.