the body with organs

by dorsey kaufmann and jesus solis

The Body with Organs is a performance piece in which artists and performers explore the way in which state authority is exerted over individuals by the US political system. In the video accompaniment, fragments of state documents (policies, sanctions, etc.) are uncovered through careful excavation. The reductive language of these forms often dictates where bodies travel, where bodies are detained, the value assigned to these bodies, and determine if a body is worthy of belonging, at home and with family. Forms once scattered in the sand are moved and reconfigured, suddenly replaced with moving bodies. Confined, dancers show the effects that reductive policy continues to have on individuals in these situations. Accompanied by audio media, voices read excerpts of writing authored by the artists and performers.

Creators of this piece convey their lived experiences dealing with oppressive systems as a previous ward of the state placed in institutions for ‘extremely troubled youth’ and as a first-generation immigrant and former DACA recipient, respectively.

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This piece is comprised of 28 movement phrases
These phrases are not our own,
They are inherited from those who taught our bodies to move
The ways they held and embraced us
And the moment they let go

How to explain,
pain migrates; like we do
From knee to belly,
to mind, to heart
then spirit¹

Manifest Destiny
Divine Intervention

To what gods do we pray?
To what gods are we prey,
when our cries remain unanswered?
When all held sacred is reduced to the dollar?
When we fight and yearn so deeply for change that hasn’t come?¹

Despite the social designations marked on our bodies by policy, we reclaim our bodies, reframe our relationships to ourselves, and own how our bodies move in and occupy space. The actions we take can either participate in or defy normative regimes. The Body with Organs presents the body as a vessel to perform our beliefs, emphasizing opposition to oppressive norms.

¹ Solis, Excerpts from ‘Broken boy’ and ‘Change’

Dorsey Kaufmann is an artist who works in time-based media including video, animation, performance art, and 3-D installations. Her practice examines the conflict among corporations, governments, and community health. Her work visualizes how these tensions and perceptions constantly define and redefine our built environment. Reflecting on system design, she considers the freedoms and limitations of movement in daily life (of bodies, products, and/or capital) by using art to translate the politics of our environment and reveal the complex histories of place.

Jesus Solis is an artist, scientist, and educator whose interests lie in storytelling media such as music, poetry, and dance. As a first-generation Mexican immigrant and queer person, Jesus’ work is heavily focused on the decolonization and reframing of self.  By speaking truth to power for the communities he represents, Jesus’ work aims to encourage others to assess, redefine, and rework what society has taught us to think and know about ourselves and each other. During a time where the mere presence of Brown and Black bodies can warrant detainment or execution, the idea of existence as resistance seems fitting.