above: Yuko Kaseki, all photos by Shige Moriya
Body Bag: Unknit Moments and a Schizophrenic's Word
A body bag can contain all kinds of matter.
The body cannot be contained. It leaks out in sense.
It cannot be kept whole, discrete, or prevent overflow. (Are we always already partial?)
What is the point beneath the surface, the body at inception, at which we connect, relate, and potentially, radically constitute wholeness? How do we move back to zero?
During and across points in Yuko Kasei's Unspelled, the first performance to open LEIMAY's SOAK festival at CAVE, the body unwrites itself in sound through movement and memory. Here are six chronological moments, by no means totalizing:
She starts walking back and forth, light slow motion, right stage to left, and back, two candy-colored, plastic bags in either hand, one swings in front of the body, the other in back, shifting places. The room is filled with candy-colored, plastic bags scattered on the ground. Downstage right, she stands relatively still, squeaks, abruptly yelps, never lets the sound grow full from her mouth. How is language made possible? I feel the sound finish in my body. That visceral jump in your body when you watch someone else about to vomit. How are we oriented towards language? She ties the handles of one plastic bag into a bow with pointed precision upside down on her head. She markedly pulls out one bag after the other from inside the bag on her head, both covering her face and letting something hidden be known to us.
2 The undressing
She wears a vintage, navy-blue-and-white polka-dot dress, bell sleeves ending just above the elbow. Downstage right, one candy-colored bag still on her head. She breathes heavily, showing us the air inside her body. Shrugs off the navy to her waist. Her breathing's movement shrugs off the rest, unhurried, she wears a white, cheap silk dress underneath. (The cheapest silk she could find she later said.) Frail. Vulnerability. Layers. Revealing and concealing a body undoing itself, unmaking and re-making claims to death, self and life.
3 Articulating frenzy
She convulses upper chest, red, rapid, sound of voice rising, voice of sound, how do you become the sound of the space? The level of light? speed, volume quick shrinks and expansions. This is the body doing language, unknitting of muscle, bone. It moves to back, inside to voice, down to hands in a frantic search from bag to bag.
Freud says the schizophrenic treats words like things. The body cannot speak itself. It must take on sense. Deleuze wants to write outside of sense, in language in sense, before sense is dominated by the language and proposition. He says language is possible because sound can be incorporeally separated from the body that emits it. He renders words visceral and edible. (1)
Her body doing language, a sweaty body that eats itself in words because it cannot speak.
4 Folding inwards, pressing out
She squats low on the ground, folds both arms inwards and down into the neckline of her white, cheap silk dress, her hand underneath, thrusting outwards, pressing against cloth like bone remembering, pushing skin.
Dress as second tissue, relating to skin as parts inside the body relating to each other. Her body moving always on the inside of a curve, lining an outside.
5 Bags under dress
Adding mass to body, her movement adding weight. She fits several candy-colored, plastic bags underneath her white, cheap silk dress, translucent from sweat. Moves from there. She yanks them out. Throws the bags up in the air with speed and turbulence. Making forces of the body visible, its impression on the air, bags flying.
Deleuze produces a new relation to language for schizophrenics, the body cannot be mediated by signs, the body screams itself, it converts bodily forces into words, and word into bodily forces. The conditions under which language and representation are made possible but aren't linguistic or representable. (2)
6 Body without bags
We remember the weight of the earlier gesture.
She had carried two candy-colored, plastic bags, one in each hand, moving as if she were transporting heavy burdens. That which we support, wear, carry, bring: structures of meaning. Object as extension of body.
This time she walks without the two candy-colored, plastic bags. The body remembers the weight of things, shifting weight and time in physicality, embodied presence. We remember the weight of the earlier gesture. What is the origin of language? Moving to unwrite oneself.
That terrain of body as mode of substance, potentiality to become more than itself, incipient futures, an aleatory point—
1. Grosz, Elizabeth. Deleuze and Guattari Course lecture. New York University. New York. November 2011.