Pelvic Chain

Galerie mladých 27 03 — 04 05
Opening — 26 3 2024

I’m revving the engine to drown out the talk that I’ll never fully regain the mobility of my limbs. 
Revving the engine, in the midst of the industrialized perception of the body, my private zone becomes a collective puzzle where nothing belongs to me. 

Marie-Anna Šulc currently focuses primarily on topics related to the experience of the unruly body from feminist perspectives, with an emphasis on the question of intersectionality, health and resistance. The video Pelvic Chain, which is the centerpiece of the exhibition, can also be seen as a kind of time capsule recording the transformative experience of recovery after a serious accident. It deals with the body, its changes, extensions and the process of regaining one’s own bodily autonomy. The video’s urgent lyrical text explores themes of being bedridden and facing grief in the hospital environment where care work is often dehumanizing to the point of violence. Indeed, the injured, disabled or chronically ill body is still perceived above all as an unproductive body, requiring assistance and attention, i.e. as a burden.  

The emotion of grief thus turns into rap defiance and anger. The visual part of Pelvic Chain is a video clip combining an abstract 3D landscape of injured bones, sharing as a form of therapeutic healing, and emancipation of rediscovered power, manifested by a motorcycle stunt performance. 

What I see in the Pelvic Chain video are two types of empowerment, the super-personal or collective in the form of lived queer and crip activism, and on the other hand, the personal and individualistic that stems from the non-transferable experience of pain. The current wave of feminist emancipation implies a radical expansion of the perception of difference or oppressed status, which is also why it can absorb various identity politics in the name of rejecting normative conservatism. Queer theories thus embrace the traumas, stigmas, and humiliations of “other” “queer” bodies, those that are invisible or a “glitch”. In doing so, they proudly invert the meaning of the originally pejorative term for disabled people, turning the crip label into a symbol of collective resistance and strength. Crip emancipation is also critical of the ideology of compulsory able-bodiedness and performance, which mainstream society can relate to better than ever after the experience of COVID-19 waves and the globally diseased body.

Personal empowerment is a little harder to describe, coming from a transformative experience of pain or a life-changing near-fatal accident. Kateřina Kolářová reflects on various aspects of pain in her contribution Pain as a Performative Act: Opening of the (Crip) Body to (Queer) Pleasures in the publication Terrains of Performance. Drawing on the work of chronically ill artist Bob Flanagan, who used S/M practices of relating to the body in his artistic practice, she reflects on the dissociation of pleasurable and unpleasurable pain as a means of contact with the body. Pain thus becomes a practice of mutuality, a sense of belonging of differently affected bodies that becomes just as, if not more, healing than physical rehabilitation in the process of recovery. Indeed, the non-transferability of the experience of intense pain or the encounter with the unheimlich is an experience so liminal that it literally breaks down the possibilities of language, the most direct form of sharing. Even though the Pelvic Chain video is based on personal experience, it does not convey a trauma-dumping weight and is not an acorn song or ballad in the true sense of the word; rather, it pays homage to the power of the body and its capacity for healing with an awareness of the depth and gravity of its experience.