Holly de Moissac MFA student, Lingering on the Surface
What does the word “dyscorpia” mean to you?
Dyscorpia felt like the opportunity to lean into a limitless body, to look inside the self and examine what it means to be human in the present and future. In my practice, I’m constantly looking at how the body acts as a member of the global ecology—this membership has constantly been changing and evolving with time, for good or ill. Dyscorpia offers the space to dream a little and present metaphorical, dynamic takes on “body” that question human perceptions of self at this moment in time.
How does your work speak to the body and our relationship to technology? What is the crossover between the ethics and aesthetics of your work?
In my piece “Lingering on the Surface”, I tried to imagine what a literal, human landscape would look like in 2019. The piece presents the back of a body, its head a face buried in an environment created from aluminum and salt. A cloud of IV bags are inflated and anchored in the back of the body. These materials—aluminum, salt, helium—are natural resources that have all been transformed by humans: an aluminum plate, processed into a geometric circle; salt, iodized, evenly ground, and ready for your pantry; and helium gas, purified and compressed. The result is an alchemic landscape, formed from products, merging with a body and sustained by a medical intervention. I am very much a materialist in my art practice, in that I obsess over what materials symbolize, how they are classified (ie. “natural” vs. manmade) and how they change with context. My own engagement with material is very much an ethical consideration.
Also, the body is a fascinating balance of fragility and power—power to shape our environments but also the site of intense vulnerability and trauma. Alongside this narrative of the individual and the global, runs a medical narrative that unsettles our relationship with nature in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand, medicine disrupts disease and preventable losses but also changes our somatic experiences of body. Medicine can easily become the veil between us and our own fragility. I feel very fortunate to live in an age with effective medical care; it is not something I try to criticize but to acknowledge that it complicates how humans relate to our bodies and environments. I am careful about not contributing to a growing climate of fear regarding medicine and I try to present these complex interactions as multifaceted—IV bags are often simultaneous sources of nourishment and markers of fragility.
What do you believe are the limits of the body in 2019? Can you envision how it will be different in 50 years from now? 100?
I believe the boundaries of the body are all about perception. Is the skin a barrier or a gateway? The physical limits of the body are so different from the philosophical limits of the body. If we see our bodies as integrated within larger systems instead of isolated individual units, this affects our behavior towards those broader systems. I imagine that the future will be determined by our self-perception. If we see our bodies as impermeable, isolated, and marketable, this will affect the next hundred years in a very different way than if we see our bodies as fallible, interconnected members of a global ecology. Developments in culture will therefore determine future limits of body.