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Suspensions

{SUSPENSIONS}   

THE BODY WAS SUSPENDED SIDE-ON FROM A WOODEN STRUCTURE ON AN OUTCROP OF ROCKS PARALLEL TO THE HORIZON, LOOKING OUT TO SEA NEAR THE SHORE AS THE TIDE WAS COMING IN THE WEATHER WAS OVERCAST WITH THE BLUSTERY WIND SWAYING THE BODY AND THE WAVES CRASHING AGAINST THE ROCKS SPRAYING AND SPLASHING IT THE DURATION OF THE SUSPENSION WAS APPROXIMATELY 20 MINUTES

"Seaside Suspension: Event for Wind and Waves", Jogashima, Miura 1981

There were 25 Body Suspensions with hooks into the skin over a period of 13 years in Japan, USA, Germany and Australia. The body was suspended in different positions, in varying locations and diverse situations. Not all the performances were static. The body swung, spun, swayed and propelled itself. It was also moved by motors and machines. And in some of the suspensions heartbeat and muscle sounds were amplified, providing an extended acoustical aura for the stretched skin body. 


THE BODY WAS SUSPENDED FROM 8 SEPARATE PULLEYS ALLOWING IT FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT WHILST IN SPACE WITH EACH ADJUSTMENT OF THE BODY POSITION THE STRETCHED SKIN LANDSCAPE WAS MODIFIED AMPLIFIED EMG SIGNALS AURALLY INDICATED THE CHANGING BODY TENSIONS DURING THE 12 MINUTE SUSPENSION.

"Moving / Modifying: Suspension for Obsolete Body", Espace DBD, Los Angeles 1982,

Most of these performances occurred in private gallery spaces or remote locations, with no audience except the group assisting the artist- such as Sitting / Swaying: Event for Rock Suspension and Seaside Suspension. The two most public performances which attracted large audiences were the Street Suspension in NY over E. 11th street and the City Suspension in Copenhagen. After being hosted up 30 metres all that could be heard was the whooshing of the wind, the whirring of the crane motors and the creaking of the skin.


CONNECTED TO STEEL CABLES, THE BODY WAS HOISTED TO THE MIDPOINT OF THE CRANE ARM, SHUTTLED TO THE END, THEN ROTATED 4 TIMES THRU 180 DEGREES FOR A 24 MINUTE SUSPENSION THE BODY WAS CONSTANTLY VIBRATING FROM THE WIND, SOMETIMES SWINGING AND SPINNING ON ITS AXIS MAXIMUM BODY HEIGHT WAS 56 METRES ABOVE STREET LEVEL.

"City Suspension", Above the Royal Theatre, Copenhagen 1985.

One of the few suspensions that occurred in Australia was in a warehouse space in Hardware Street, Melbourne. The body was suspended in a lift well of the building. The invited audience could view the body ascending and descending from the basement looking up or the top floor looking down. As well they could move up and down each floor level to get a cross-sectional view of the shaft as the body moved past them.


THE BODY WAS SUSPENDED IN A HORIZONTAL POSITION THEN HOISTED UP AND LOWERED DOWN AN EMPTY LIFT-WELL THE ASCENT TOOK 17 MINUTES, WHILE THE DESCENT TOOK 15 MINUTES THE DIMENSIONS OF THE LIFT-WELL WERE 6' X 4.6' X 57' DEEP CONNECTING 5 SEPARATE FLOOR LEVELS, INCLUDING THE BASEMENT BECAUSE OF PROTRUDING BEAMS AND FLOOR BOARDS THE BODY HAD TO MANOEUVRE THROUGH THE SHAFT CONTACTING, PUSHING AWAY, SPINNING AROUND, PROBING THE SPACE.

"Up / Down: Event for Shaft Suspension", Hardware Street Studio, Melbourne 1980.

Although the suspensions deal with the physical difficulty of the body strung up they have neither religious intent (transcending the body), the yearning for shamanistic empowering nor as yogic displays of control. They are realised with neither the intention of initiation rites nor the S&M exploration of pain and pleasure. What can be admitted though is that a painful experience does collapse the convenient distinction between the mind and body. When overwhelmed with pain you perceive and experience yourself as a physical body, rather than a self that thinks and objectively evaluates in some kind of disconnected and objectified way. 
The suspensions were a body sculpture installed in a space of other objects. The stretched skin is a kind of gravitational landscape. The penalty you pay for being suspended in a 1G gravitational field. Suspended and in stress the anonymous body realises its obsolescence. The anxiety and the uncertainty that accompanies the feeling of being vulnerable. The nude and silent body at least in its static suspensions is an image of suspended animation. An anesthetized and pacified body that is obsolete but not yet extinct. That has desires but does not express them. That feels pain but remains silent and stoic. A body that neither thinks nor expresses emotions. The body is exposed as obsolete, empty, absent from its own agency and performing largely involuntarily.  A suspended body is a zombie body. It does not think because it does not have a mind of it's own nor any mind at all in the traditional metaphysical sense. To be suspended is to be between states. To be neither one nor the other. To be in suspense is neither being able to participate in the present nor able to anticipate the outcome. Performing with neither memory nor expectation. Performing without a past and denying a future. 


STRETCHED BETWEEN WHAT IT NEVER WAS AND WHAT IT COULD NEVER BECOME; SUSPENDED BETWEEN THE INWARD PULL OF GRAVITY AND THE OUTWARD THRUST OF INFORMATION, THE BODY RETURNS TO THE TREE, ANXIOUS AND VULNERABLE AFFIRMING ITS PRIMAL ORIGINS, AMPLIFYING ITS OBSLESCENCE. TERMINAL TRAJECTORY IS PLOTTED, AN ELEGANT EXIT IS ASSURED. THE BEGINNING IS RE-ENACTED, THE END IS PROCLAIMED. THE BREEZE IS BLOWING OVER AERODYNAMIC STRETCHED SKIN, THE BODY IS ATTAINING PLANETARY ESCAPE VELOCITY. THE BRAIN IS BURSTING FROM ITS GENETIC CONFINEMENT, HOVERING BETWEEN GRAVITY AND FANTASY, INTUITIVELY. 

"Prepared Tree Suspension: Event for Obsolete Body No. 6", Black Mountain, Canberra 1982.