An intimate restorative technique for self care done individually for 2 hours at Le Petit Versailles garden event, Summer Nights on Jupiter curated by Stephen Boyer and Orlando Tirado
Subsequently, I wrote this text after my talk for the Dreamhouse installation.
It seems kinda silly and superfluous right now for me to talk or share art with you in the wake of recent injustices surrounding police brutality. The constant murders of black and brown and trans folks, systemic racism, classism, sexism along with personal and institutional violence. I wanted to take the time to talk about self care amidst the turmoil, fear and anger we are constantly facing and offer some tools for our community tonight – caring for each other and ourselves.
I’ve had to learn to care for myself over the years and trust my own understandings of how to ask for help and how to learn how to help myself.
It all started before it started. I never wanted to leave my mother’s womb, in fact the doctors and my mother can attest to it. As I was coming out of the womb, my leg wrapped around the umbilical cord to the point of constricting the blood flowing to my leg. The doctors had to perform an emergency C-section to get me out. And this is how I was born. Unlike most, I had to live with the scars of that incident, learn and relearn how to walk – wearing a hip and leg brace like Forest Gump unable to run with one foot smaller than the other. I was teased and ridiculed and kept trying to get rid of these mobility devices even if it was supposed to help me. The emotional scars too much. In a way, I couldn’t learn how to run from my fears but rather try and confront them through other ways – and learn to care for myself with the scars and trauma I’ve been born with.
I’ve been living in an old 19th century building in NYC, and one year, I ended up contracting a 19th century illness. It took 6 months for one of the several doctors I saw diagnose it as whooping cough, and when I received the “proper” treatment I thought it was over, but really it started a whole new beginning. I had a delayed allergic reaction to the antibiotics that sent me to the hospital again. I was burning up, my entire body turned cherry red, unable to eat or drink. Still to this day, I relive the episode at random moments usually after eating. Friends look at my face and say I have a lovely tan, but the allergy makes it difficult for me to process what’s going on in my body. The left over trauma of the medical establishment’s ability to treat only the symptoms of an illness still linger.
It’s the things we do that help us control the things we can’t.
We tend to think of the clinical medical establishment as the default to care, but we can think of health as a system of support we get with our friends for advice and care. We need to help each other, and not solely rely on what we are told by medical professionals, but lived experiences from others going through the same situations. I didn’t realize how much information and problems with health I’ve had over the years and how knowledgeable I have become about my own health and helping others care for themselves.
So with this, I am doing a performance that is less spectacle. No more putting myself through ritual acts, drug coping, angers, frustrations and lost heart. Instead I’m hoping for something participatory through this simple exercise for you.
Heart Bench, 2016