“When two hands touch, there is a sensuality of the flesh, an exchange of warmth, a feeling of pressure, of presence, a proximity of otherness that brings the other nearly as close as oneself. 1 perhaps closer. And if the two hands belong to one person, might this not enliven an uncanny sense of the otherness of the self, a literal holding oneself at a distance in the sensation of contact, the greeting of the stranger within? So much happens in a touch: infinity of others—other beings, other spaces, and other times—is aroused. “ — Karen Barad
A queer indigenous body encounters walls and closets and in response bodily wrestles markings, movement, actions with twists and turns, reaching outward, upward, pressing bodily firmly back at what resists, holds in, restricts or constricts. The way is to move into intimacy. To reach out and touch, making a mark so as to re-imagine what walls and what closets.
How a body has its own intelligence and cellular memory — knowing other times, other spaces we have yet to encounter within our consciousness. My body has been telling me many things — of care, nurturance, of love, and, of self-care, self-nurturance and of self-love as rebellious decolonial practice and activism.
Bodies remember places/spaces we may never have encountered before, but we may have been here in other ancestral times. Perhaps I had never left British Columbia. Perhaps I have always been here bodily in the land, in my people, in their hands, in their eyes. The hands are replicas of my mothers, my sisters, they are of embodied queerness,queerness; love, touching, desire, intimacy, indigeneiety, land. The heart is a size of a fist. A fist remembers both what has struck out in anger as well as what is embraced in love.
Moving here has taught me how to regain body and regain movement.
Moving here taught me about looking. How, depending on the place, we are looked at differently. I started to notice my body in other native people and that type of recognition was emotional and powerful.
I started to better understand the length of my arms, the length of my hands, the darkness of my hair and eyes. I started to understand an embodiment I had never known existed in my movements as I walked the neighbourhood where I live near Hastings Street near the Downtown Eastside. In this bodily recognition I also have had to acknowledge and separate myself from others, learning how oppression and colonization structures an otherness within myself.
With “that brings the other nearly as close as oneself ”, I work To be fluid, to embrace a relationship with touch and my touch. I get really close to my walls and my closets. Through this body of work, through bindings of plaster of hands and fists, collected and compiled into a pile of love and holding, of fist making and prayer, to then bodily working denim marks on the wall, creating a new language of movement that should be struck as a surprise — native women are not known to move like this, but I will — confident and aware to contribute commentary on the relationship with the many selves and of queer visibility and invisibility.
1 Karen Barad,On Touching—The Inhuman That Therefore I Am (v1.1)