the fact of being next to or touching another, usually similar, thing; the state of bordering or being in direct contact with something
Contiguity…the condition of being in contact…is what can give any sign in the present a direct association with another sign in the past.
~ Amelia Jones, art historian
In this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard.
~ from The Beloved by Toni Morrison
At the 2020 USC Juneteenth Celebration, Anita-Dashiell-Sparks read a passage from Toni Morrison’s The Beloved. Dashiell-Sparks’ reading, although mitigated through technology, was visceral and tangible; she brought “livingness” to the words and this hearer left connected and transformed through her performance. It was a performance of contiguity.
Contiguity, in these present times, has been (not a little) diminished. Our bodies are both our connection and threat to one another. Technology for the most part has kept us linked, but it facilitates apartness ~ sans touch, sans contact. Probably never have we thought about our bodies’ proximity to one another more than we do now.
But our separateness is not a new phenomenon. The othering of the body has kept us separated for a very long time. Racial, sexual, gendered, and class binaries have informed our socio-cultural structures and, by definition, binaries separate. In empowering form, enactment and performance artists today are stressing contiguity in their work ~ touching, fleshing, and queering ~ the body as a technology of disruption and connection most palpable for the artist and viewer.
Our two guest discussants, performance artist and theatre professor Anita Dashiell-Sparks and feminist curator, theorist and historian of art and performance, Amelia Jones have dedicated their work and lives to disrupt divisive, binary thinking and structural discrimination. Come and engage Professors Dashiell-Sparks and Jones on how they bring social justice to the art world and how you can bring it to yours.