Seize / Duplicate \ Repeat, 2010
Collaboration with Mikel Bisbee-Durlam. Duration: 50 minutes. Performed on November 6, 2010 at Soho20 Gallery Chelsea, NY. Re-presented as single and multi-channel video installations.
The brain and body react in unmediated ways to trauma. Both individually and as a pair, Wood and Bisbee-Durlam perform repetitive movement and laborious action against external parameters and challenges to examine, mimic, and reinterpret the ways that the human brain and body react to extreme events and damage, whether psychological or physical.
How do you understand the relationship between trauma and the City?
I understand trauma as an experience that punctures the status quo, suddenly lifting a veil on what was perceived to be real, stable, or secure. It can be exacerbated depending on the cultural values in one’s surrounding community and society at large. The city – NYC – has a way of revealing instability but not acknowledging the adverse effects of that instability. This tendency demarcates invisible boundaries between personal experience and external expectations. Trauma is disruptive to standard production and consumption models of behavior; there is very little room in the culture for something as inconvenient as trauma.
This work is both image and performance of low-intensity violence against the body. What is the difference between the moving image of being dragged through streets and the experience of being dragged?
One of reasons bringing art to public spaces is exciting to me is that it puts a metaphor into practice, tempering theatricality with everyday reality. When the work is viewed in an art space, it returns to being controlled and the function is metaphoric. During filming, bystanders reacted more when I was being dragged – a female being dragged by a male. People intervened more – they were more protective of my body being harmed.
Why do you oscillate the dragging between two people? What does that interdependence speak to for you?
In my work I’ve only recently begun to consider the effects of trauma on caretakers of trauma victims, so I'm very interested in the ways in which bodies are interdependent and how trauma bleeds into those relationships. At the time of this video, I was considering each person as an aspect of the self. Because of the ungraspable and inarticulate nature of trauma, one part of the psyche is always asleep; the rest of the self has to work harder to perform the smallest actions.
Jody Wood is a New York–based artist utilizing video, installation, performance, and community organization to engage with socially informed content. Her work has received grant support from the Brooklyn Arts Council, New York Council for the Humanities, Rema Hort Mann Foundation and residencies with Asian Arts Initiative, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. In 2014, Wood was a Socially Engaged Art Fellow with A Blade of Grass and is currently an artist in residence at University Settlement.