Tuesday, October 22, 2019

My Body Is a Wunderkammer


Cabinet

The Chambre des merveilles. The Cabinet of curiousities. Wunderkammer. In the mid-sixteenth century, the bizarre, strange, and fantastic were placed in rooms and cabinets, an open presentation for others to peruse. A “unicorn horn” (narwhal tusk) was placed next to a rare stamp was placed next to soft lichen was placed next to blue china teacups. All manner of captivating things were collected and catalogued, a prototype of the first museum.
Skull
Skull c/o Craft Store
In considering cabinets of curiosity, I want to focus on what, exactly, curious signifies.
1.     Eager to know or learn something.
2.     Strange; unusual.
Lungs
Lungs by Sarah Bates
And strange?
1.     Unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand.
2.     Not previously visited, seen, or encountered.

Foot
Foot by Samantha Coxall
So wunderkammers are displays of unusual objects. And living in this world, in this body, I'm forced to see my body as a display for others, as a space for people to visit, see, or encounter me. Walking home from a reading the other night, I was catcalled twice.
1.     An old man, wolf-whistling in a dark alley.
2.     A young boy, yelling “you look nice” from an electric scooter.

Eyes
Eyes by Maddie Norris
There is something unsettling about the way my body is an object for others to look at, to touch, to assess. I'm just a sexy teacup for men to graze, a rare stamp to awe over. I want to fracture their gaze. I want to unsettle. I want to say, “You want my body on display? Here it is.”

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