In this performance, I present, with the assistance of my actual husband Bradley, my body to the audience in the format of a series of operations, inspired by and employing visual quotations from the American children’s game “Operation.” The audience enters in a procession and travels past my exposed body as I sing “Dry Bones.” Live video is streamed by a camera directed by Brad that follows me as I conduct a series of “operations,” cutting open Band-Aids and removing a series of items from my body. Each separate performance, the elbow/arm, stomach/guts, head/brain, calf/leg, knee/joints, uterus/vagina and heart/lungs contain a micro story that, when juxtaposed, has something larger to say.
The items, such as stones, a tiny harmonica, photo negatives, a clown nose and a dry sponge, are used to create complex narratives that display a part of my history to those there to observe me. Using my body as an archival source, I display my body parts as memories, case studies, reenactments, gestures, song, found language and more.
The work delves into my struggle with chronic illness, the medical system, subjectivity, the history of operational theater, social acceptance and a relationship to my dying body. More than anything, the work discusses my relationship with my husband and the various roles he fills, including assistant, doctor, lover, husband and more. The work exposes various elements of living with chronic illness, including difficulties with tremors, muscle spasms, extreme weight, breathing issues, extreme fatigue and much more, all induced by the labor of the performance. The performance ends with a slowing down of my body and Bradley laying me back down to rest.