Tess Wood is a multimedia artist living and working in South Wales. Over the pandemic, her work has moved towards sound and writing as a form of expression although, at the heart of her practice is an obsession with the body; through performative action and critical thought.
Here is Tess’ written reaction to the word ‘prop’.
Prop – a pole or beam used as a support or to keep something in position, typically one that is not an integral part of the thing supported.
Recently there had been a lot of work happening around dismantling the generalised understanding of societal ‘norms’ and behaviour patterns.
I prop someone up, a new person, who I am getting to know. This person is most probably existing within a structure that is supported by binary logic.
- The trick is; to question.
Is this a prop built for you to grow or a prop built to keep you firmly static?
As a white person, brought up in a rural welsh community, I have been indoctrinated to see people through a lens of otherness. This idea of otherness catalogues and includes all people who are not straight, white passing.
This not only causes an inner battle with the self who is trying to move through life with love and compassion towards the multifaceted existence of humanity but also causes unexplainable confusion when acknowledging ones own privileges and behaviour patterns that are undoubtably related to heteronormative and white ways of functioning within society.
This confusion is scary and painful and can easily be transferred though a nervous system response into fear. Our bodies capability of triggering fear is a survival tactic, a call to action to let us know something is wrong. In this mode we can freeze, flee or fight. I can recall having experienced all three of these responses when going against the ‘self’ in situations which are deemed ‘socially normal’ through a straight, white lens. Often resulting in in total ambivalence to owns own behaviour.
When you notice that you are slipping back into indoctrinated forms of behaviour you can feel an inner betrayal. A heat in the palms is all it takes, an embodied cue, telling you ‘this is not who I am, this is who I’ve been told to be’.
So, what do you do? Let it drop. Find self again. Return to the body.
The images I have put towards this zine catalogue my recent collaboration with dance artist CJ Ashen. This performance will utilise our interests in sound and workshops as a means to generate material and focus on questioning the things that feel inherent to self. Working across disciplines has helped us to create new ways of developing thought and performative material for example; recording conversations, cutting them up, turning them into choreography. We hope to show this work by the end of 2021.