Bruising my tailbone

Emily Carris-Duncan has been my friend for almost fifteen years. They are a genius artist that currently works with textiles for creations that explore identity, history, comfort, the use of space public and private, and so much more. Right now I am obsessed with the ways that their work presents comfort as an act of social justice. Plenty of significant thinkers – academic, artistic, mainstream, on the margins, radical and street philosophers – have done incredible work on the body, the body as a political space, body inclusivity, body shaming, the body as a space of racial thought, the body as a carrying of legacy and history… And yet so many spaces that want to invite the public into conversation, to learn and share, to watch, to listen to speakers, to engage with art, still host in spaces that are so deeply embedded with racism. The standard chairs are designed for a body that has been defined by racist thought, the requirement for audience to sit quietly, to remain sitting, the standard food served without any seasoning, all re-knit, re-entrench the daily functionality of racism. Emily has made me understand that the right to comfort, to be comfortable, to feel comfortable in one’s own body – whether in a private space or out in the broader public, is a space for critical revolutionary change.

The new image is me hugging a big pouf made by Emily. The quilted pieces draw from the patterns used to guide people to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Emily created pieces for an installation at the Penn Museum of Anthropology for the event celebrating the 5 years of the Center for Experimental Ethnography. The space, the creation of the space and the objects within the space, encourage rest. We do not have to be uncomfortable or stoic, quiet nor orderly, to learn; and our physical bodies call out, scream with aches and pains, to be moved from the regimented design imposed on us.

to fail or not to fail, what is your response

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