17 - Toe over head, chin over elbow
Yesterday I hadn’t long set out for my walk when I crossed a road. In a moment of indecision, just as I reached the opposite kerb, I looked back over my shoulder to see if the tide was out and the beach walkable. In that instant of not looking where I was going, I tripped over the high kerb, pitched forward and bounced my chin off a low wall, landing on my back immobile for a few seconds. Picking myself up, I sat on the wall to recover before pottering home to clean up and drink a cup of sweet tea.
My chin now has a nice graze on it and I will not be dipping it into any paint like I did a few days ago to try and make a self-portrait without using my hands. You see, I’ve been thinking about the importance of our whole bodies and how we use them in art in recent days. How would I make art if, for instance, I had no fingers? As part of this exploration, my ‘Feetmap’ today is a landscape created literally using my feet. The undersides of our toes are a feature few of us pay much attention to, unless we need to get out a splinter, and that takes a degree of athletic flexibility in itself. We don’t give them a moment’s thought when we move about, walk, dance and jump, but who’d have thought they might be such a thing of beauty. If you don’t believe me, just dip your toe into some gloopy poster paint, press it onto a bit of paper and stand back to admire the gorgeous masterpiece you have made. With all the miles I cover most weeks and the harsh treatment the soles of my feet must suffer, the sheer delicacy of my own toeprint was amazing to me, with beautiful whorls and lines like the wrinkles of a brain.
I’m definitely not alone in thinking about making hands-free art, or using the body in art in alternative ways to sitting at a desk with a sheet of paper. As well as the incredible work of mouth and foot painting artists, for instance, creatives such as Heather Hansen and Jarrett Key use their bodies in unusual ways to make their work. Instead of a sound clip for you to listen to this week, I’ve included a couple of links below to videos of their performance art.
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