“Aqueous bodies”: imaging corporeal trauma in the anthropocene

“As bodies of water we leak and seethe, our borders are always vulnerable to rupture and renegotiation.” (Astrida Neimanis.)

“Aqueous bodies” connects gender-based violence and ecological damage. Inspired by the notion of “bodies of water”, developed in Feminist phenomenology, it explores how the trauma of gender-based violences (including sexual assault) is linked to nature’s human-induced damage, exploitation, or mutation. Unfolding the affects of the liminal spaces of trauma, the ubiquity of queerness, and underwater soundlessness as a medium for silenced violences, this project builds a meditative language of regeneration where survivorship from trauma extends beyond reclaimed individual corporalities, and where healing somatized bodies become a form of ecological resilience.

There is an intimate connection between domination over nature, and domination over women, queer and non-white people: both are exercised as a result of a separation of nature from culture in Western modern rationality, leading some human beings to believe in a hierarchy of life forms they should head––and exploit to their will. This separation is contradicted by non-Western traditional knowledge, where humans are not independent from the nature they live in: their destiny is connected to the stars, their daily life is rhythmed by the elements, and water is a sacred body carrying signs of divine communication. Either in the form of rivers, wetlands, puddles, oceans, lakes, reservoirs, or rain, water holds consciousness of the Self and promises of cosmic connection.

“Aqueous bodies” are grounded in these Indigenous cosmologies, as they celebrate the simultaneous multiplicity and in-betweens of queer bodies. They invite us to consider how our bodies are not individual subjects but rather fluid entities, challenging hierarchies and connected to hydrological cycles––from rain to oceans, and back again. Doing so, they explore the regenerative potential of traumatized bodies as the survival process of water throughout anthropogenically exacerbated crises.

”Aqueous bodies” is a series of B&W photographs. In the long run, it is conceived as an evolutive project putting in dialogue photograph-based narrative with materials resulting from collaborative work with survivors––e.g., short interview excerpts––and further navigating the connection between non-binary bodies and the undersea in their common exposure to exploitation––through graphic transpositions of underwater audio recordings.

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