PANTEHA ABARESHI

UNLEARN THE BODY

2021

OVERVIEW :

In this performance piece piece, the "body" is unlearnt in six movements, as the I maneuver the mobility aid as both vital corporeal appendages, and alienating material. The dynamics of power surrounding the sick/disabled body are examined as slow, intentional gestures unfold wherein the body is bound, contorted and collapsed around the structures built from the medical devices. A striking confrontation and embodiment of powerlessness takes place. "Unlearn the Body" captures my continuous struggle with the pressures of externalized and internalized ableism to preform able-bodiedness, and the deterioration of my body that makes such performance ultimately painful and impossible. This piece articulates the post-human and cyborg-futurist body of thought I employ in my work and my relationship to my illness and disability- wherein the line between the "organic" and "inorganic" is blurred. I am contending every day with the reality that all my "best" parts are made from metal, plastic and stone- the "inorganic" prosthetics and medical devices implanted within me are vital to the function of my "organic" corporeal form. The naturalist prejudice within ableist society gives preference to the body which is devoid of "inorganic" material, and unaided by medical devices- but the notion of an "organic" body is an oxymoronic fallacy. This performance allows for me to parallel the mobility aids with my own body, the external, metal appendages no more alien to me than my own, decrepit and deteriorating bodily appendages. Building the precarious structures and shapes from the mobility aids, and tucking myself into them embodies the fraught navigation of my own illness, disability and degeneration as I simultaneously contend with the socio-societally integrated ableism which allows for the desecration and marginalization of the sick/disabled body. This piece in particular is a vulnerable exhibition of my complex and undulating acceptance of my own illness a disability. "Unlearn the Body" captures a painful understanding and embrace in the face of health politics which call for all sick/disabled individuals to be ashamed and constantly seeking a "solution" to their illness/disability- or in the very least be actively working to conceal it from society at large for the sake of the comfort of those who are of able body. "Unlearn the Body" is simultaneously tender, and cutting, a glimpse into a never-ending conversation I must have with myself and my body as I live with an illness and disability that are ever-worsening.