TT: Tuesday, May 16, 2006 - Cunt/torsion/art/is

On throwback thursdays I am posting old posts from the blog I maintained from 2006-2009 titled A Black Girl. 
In this post, I discuss the project, Patient. with a title suggested by Shani Jamila. We were in Elsa Barkley Brown’s Black Women and the Politics of Improvisation class together when the medical ordeal happened. I came back from the hospital with the very beginnings of an idea around what happened. I’m thinking through the efficacy of connecting it to a politics of improvisation and Shani’s suggestion.



I know this blog will only make sense to a select few who have seen the sketches, or to whom i’ve talked about this project… if you have any questions feel free to email me.

So I have been thinking aboutShani’s suggestion that I title my project “Contortion Artist.” I thought it was the best idea, and I am still ruminating on it. Thoroughly even. What I am considering is what a contorsion artist is, what contorsion signifies, and what that means in relation to medicalization and of course my torsed ovary.

Here are my musings about it all. I’m a little disturbed by the fact that what I had was called a “torsed” or “contorted” ovary. “Contortion” implies flexibility, and is often used within the context of things that can be put back into their regular shape. There is an agency about “contortion” that doesn’t sit well with me.

But then again I began to think about the process of gynecological exams more closely. The positions women have to perform in order to be examined properly. Putting legs in the stirrups, scooting down just far enough off of the table so that there is no support for your tail bone. The mental contortions–trying to forget the cold speculum so that you can flex you muscles to lessen the discomfort. Facial expressions even. 

I began to have images in my head, of actual contortion artists, yogis etc. People who can and deliberately move their bodies into seemingly “unnatural” positions. Then I thought back to the word contortion the roots of it:

Contort: To twist or bend out of normal shape.
Tort: Wrongful act or infringement.
Torsion: The action of twisting

These words seem to be juicily related and so perfect for this project. Because I am likening the torsed ovary to be like a lynching, a murder, abortion, or suicide. There is this connotation of it being a wrongful act. It of course, in a real sense was an infringement on my life. The pain of it–how I had to halt all of my other obligations in order to tend to my body.

Bending and flexibility are not things I necessarily associate with what happened to me because it implies passivity to me. But maybe this is an inaccurate association. What is real is the ways our bodies must flex in order to endure life, oppression, the middle passage, childbirth, rape, a first date, coming out, goodbyes, everything.

The complexities of the word are lost in “contortion artist.”

But the questions do not end there. What are the implications of placing “artist” in the title? It is about me, to an extent, but it is not about art, or any other artist really. What does it mean to associate my ovary with art? The politics of this ovarian torsion with art? This I have not muddled through yet. (Hey, this is why I’m blogging it… to get feedback.)

So this is where I am with it:

Some kind of “breaking up” of the word contortion (i.e. con/tortion). Or possibly an intentional misspelling (i.e. contorsion, cunt-or-shun, or cunt/orishan). Maybe even a shortening of it all together (i.e tortion or torsion). Another option is a quite literal approach (torsed artist, or artistic torsion)

The “artist” part… I just don’t know. What do you think?

Also… more shit to be depressed about. They could have saved it:http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/506238