TO HAVE TO HOLD TO
CYNTHIA POST HUNT
In the winter of 2010, my brother’s daughter died suddenly. We spent the moments after cross-legged on the floor, passing her body between our arms. I remember the weight of her body, and that somehow holding her allowed me to grasp her departure.
“TO HAVE TO HOLD TO”
What is the body?
Whose job is it to care for this body?
How long are you willing to hold this body?
A Minute/A Few Minutes/Many Minutes/Not Interested
The work was originally conceived to explore the parameters of grief and loss. Initially the action was a transient meditation between artist and individual. One participant chose to explore the weight of my body and the endurance of their own. Another simply comforted me with his voice. How one chose to hold me was dependent on their strength and desire for closeness. I was slung over shoulders, suspended between bodies, and cradled in arms and laps. With my eyes closed, my mouth silent, and my body still, I was dependent on those in the room. I often questioned whether consciousness would alter the work.
Readapted for a solo performance at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the work evolved and became about vulnerability and trust. The audience was given the prompt: The artist asks that for the next sixty minutes her body is held. In an empty room my body was held by a woman. As people entered, my body was passed from one to another in silence. Quickly the individuals resolved to work together, creating a net of arms and hands clasped together supporting my body. And then someone began slowly to sway from hip to hip, and I was being rocked. The rocking continued as people rotated in and out of the six-seven person net. They communicated through eye contact, alerting a need for a break, or an interest in joining in. At some point, silence broke, and small talk began. By the end of the sixty minutes, the individuals had become a community, my body of little relevance.