Sunday, March 03, 2013


what a weekend! i stepped over my own boundaries, overcame my own fears, bonded with new people and became closer to some who were already friends, learned that nobody has a perfect body and began work on what is, for me, a major piece of autobiographical art. it was the weekend of the torso project.

probably the best part was selecting the headlines i wanted to swathe myself in.
i've come to feel rather not particularly american after nigh on 15 years of living outside the country of my birth.  but there are still moments when i am deeply, culturally bound by my heritage - like at the thought of standing topless and (gasp!) braless and allowing someone who i just met to cover me in plaster. i actually had nightmares about it two nights before it happened. a streak of deep conservatism surfaces within me and i'll admit feeling some measure of resentment for it, even while i am utterly helpless against it. but i took a deep breath and swallowed my fears (after expressing them and laughing quite a lot about them (for which i am grateful to those who helped me do that)).

between the future and the past - could it be more appropriate?
but when it came down to it and women around the room (24 of them), working in pairs, shed their tops and stood there in all of their real glory, it was actually quite ok. and despite having someone else drape strips of plaster on my entire upper body (the kind casts are made of when you have a broken arm), it was both intimate and not. because it was also a chemical process (plaster gets warm as it hardens), and a logistical puzzle - placing the strips so they clung to one another and built the next layer. it began to harden quickly and felt more like a suit of armor than something particularly intimate (which perhaps also bears reflection).

travel-related on the inside - political on the outside.
in the end, standing there exposed and as real as it gets was quite ok. and it was an amazing experience - intimate and fun and full of laughter and expressions of fears and creativity and excitement. and my goodness, what an experience it was. to be lived and felt and shared.

i covered the inside with travel-related headlines and bits of news stories - as i am formed by travel, perhaps most of all. the outside is quite political, but also contains inside jokes - like a cartoon about facebook drawn by my friend political cartoonist jens hage - who loves breasts and who i stuck right there on my own breast, in a kind of gesture of love and abiding friendship. a joke of the kind he will appreciate.

i've only just begun decorating it. it will be interesting to see where it takes me. it has only begun to whisper to me of where it wants to go. stay tuned.

and if you'd like to gather a group of women (you by no means need to have 24 of them) and do something similar, perhaps with an eye on a global exhibition - shoot me an email (jknachti (at) gmail (dot) com).


celkalee said...

I think this and the others would make a stunning first exhibit at your new community center, yes? You could add a little scarf or necklace, also handcrafted by participants. Exposing, so to speak, the real you:)Great work.

Veronica Roth said...

Apart from saying the obvious about how wonderful and freeing and exquisite this artistic expression feels to me, (but you probably already know I would know that), I just have to ask, how did you get the cast off?

julochka said...

@celkalee - thank you!

@veronica - we cut it up the side on one side, then you repair it immediately with more plaster and you can't even see that it was cut. :-) otherwise, it would be pretty impossible to get out of it!

Torben said...

nice and good that you did it Julie