The Body is Candy

Performance: 3 hours at Art Bank, Vancouver, Canada, 2011  

 

Chun Hua Catherine Dong eats lots of candies in her performance, she consumes her candies like a doctor consumes surgical bodies.

Chun Hua Catherine Dong is eating lots of candies in a gallery

Chun Hua Catherine Dong eats lots of candies in her performance, she consumes her candies like a doctor consumes surgical bodies.

Chun Hua Catherine Dong eats lots of candies in her performance, she consumes her candies like a doctor consumes surgical bodies.

a nurse drops candy bits from Chun Hua Catherine Dong

Chun Hua Catherine Dong eats lots of candies in her performance, she consumes her candies like a doctor consumes surgical bodies.

I set a medical bed in a gallery space and pour a pile of candies on the bed. I wear a doctor outfit, standing in front of the bed with a nurse. I take a candy, peeling it and transmitting it into my month and chewing it, and then I spit the candy bits to a plate that the nurse holds. The nurse takes the plate, walks in the gallery, and places the candy bits on the floor, chairs, tables, walls and so on. Sometimes the candy is dropped right in front of an audience’s feet, or deposited a coffee table where an audience is enjoying his/her wine. The nurse also often cuts audiences conversations in order to place the candy on a certain place.

This performance implies how contemporary medical discourse and biological research continue to objectify the body by treating the patient as a compilation of symptoms and statistics. Diseased body is a docile body, an object, a ready-made shaped by discourse and abstracted through science. It is also an entity continually controlled, denied and manipulated by a biomedical authority. Under this authority, the body remains permeable, vulnerable, and mutable. In my performance, I embrace Feliix Gonzalez-Torres’s concept of candy with a Duchampian sensibility to create “portraiture” referring the physicality of the subject’s body. However, different from Feliix Gonzalez-Torres’s, my sweets cannot be consumed by audiences but its authority only. These disfranchised candies themselves are testimony demonstrating a process how its authority studies it, dissects it, sexually harasses it, abuses it, and finally abandons it. However, the testimony is an invalid testimony because we seem to have accepted the fact that we are an object in terms of medical treatments; and this acceptance inevitably maintains us being the most compliant creature under a scalpel.

performed with Ashlea Conway, photo credit: Henry Sun