The Bubble: Version 2

Bubble 2, Susan Merrick, Laboratory of Dissent 2.0, 2019

Today (Thursday 7th Nov) I had my first exploratory session at the Uni.

I used the bus (see below), created mono-prints, stuck my bubble comments from Saturday up on a wall to consider them. I engaged with several people, had a tour of the Art School and got to have some short conversations with some of the other Artists.

It was an interesting set-up. I arrived and had planned to use the bus. This is an amazing creature. An ex-library bus that has been taken on by Test Valley and CAS and is used for multiple purposes! It’s name? The Bus of Many Things!! (This makes me happy and I sent the details to my Artist friend Louise Ashcroft, as she will love it!)

I also visited the other Artists in the Rotunda, a different space surrounded by water in which most of the other Artists were quietly thinking or creating. And the foyer, which is a corridor outside a lecture hall. These are all spaces that we will be exploring with our work and where we will be engaging with the staff and students of the Uni.

I used the bus as a mini-workshop space, setting up mono printing and creating my own very mini gallery space for the day. (Photos to follow). I had arrived this morning thinking about dissent and bodies. How do our bodies dissent? When they are ill? injured? suffering from allergies or infections? I have a rash on my face today from some make-up that my skin has reacted to. Is my skin dissenting? And is that dissent useful?

We also dissent against bodies. We shave, wax, pluck them, cover them, plump them, fill them, smooth them, hide them, enhance them. We dissent against the natural. (Or at least this is what the mainstream in western society shows).

We also USE our bodies in acts of dissent. Maybe through action or protest (physically marching, campaigning, protesting or rioting), through higher impact acts of rebellion, like hunger strikes or even suicide bombs, or through small acts of rebellion (growing our bodily hair when that is not the norm, or refusing to adhere to uniforms or costumes, not conforming to what is expected. Perhaps by stepping over the yellow line before the train comes, or crossing before the green man tells us to.

I arrived thinking about all of this.

I also created the Bubble version 2. Bubble 2 is a deflated lilo. I reinflated it slightly and taped it together to create a tunnel that I could place over my upper body. I took it up to the foyer area and sat under and within in. I used a chalk pen to write down my thoughts while i was under the bubble. I remembered the text sent by Laurence, talking of membranes, of umbilical fluid and of fluid as protection. It is. It is protection. Like my bubble. Womb like, muted sounds and sights, warm and moist (as I got sweaty). The writing on my bubble began to rub off onto my body as it merged with my skin. If we are all fluid anyway, then not only does the fluid protect us when it surrounds us, but it IS US also. If it is US, and you, and me and all of us, then we are connected and this too protects us.

Fluidity. Dissent. All one. Bodies. Water.

3 comments on “The Bubble: Version 2”

  1. I am really enjoying this experiment, how do people interact with the bubble of personal space when you make it visible and invite interaction?

    I guess this is why it was anxiety inducing when I approached version 1 ( because I literally was invading your personal space and your rules of engagement had constrained your freedom of response. How does this compare to how you experience your bubble of personal space in day to day life?

    Incidentally, the way you expressed your vulnerability that day was so endearing, even more cute than a baby polar bear.

    Perhaps it felt a bit like a creature in a zoo might feel?

  2. I am so glad you brought up body hair. Not so much because I have a story but because of the relevance of my recent emotional moment (readers see blog post titled ‘Flowing’).

    Body hair. When I was 19 years old I actually undertook a dissent project which involved undertaking some research and analysis to be published on a website (my first ever self-built website) called ‘Happily Hairy’. I had in fact not removed hair from any part of my body since age 15. This continued until the age of 21 at which point something amazing happened. I contemplated the prospect of wearing a mid-length skirt in summer and decided that I really didn’t feel comfortable appearing as though the thicker hair round my ankles (it grows thicker if you shave it y’know) went all the way up past my knees! I have never shaved my thighs and the hairs are beautifully soft and delicate up there!! In that moment I chose for myself, that I was going to shave so that I could enjoy the skirt-wearing style better. And despite it being motivated by not wanting to be judged ‘too hairy’ I was actually, suddenly, free. Because IT DIDN’T MATTER!

    Shaven / Not Shaven – two polar opposites.

    On any given day I could now choose either, for my own reasons and not for culturally imposed ones. Not shaving was no longer politicial. It was no longer a statement. It was no longer a rejection of “not-me” femininity.

    It took another decade or more to begin reclaiming rejected parts of me, to allow myself to be both and all. To not over-identify.

    So this is a good example of the “pushing back” phase of rejection which I later deduced must have been what I was responding to when I shed tears on stage at the symposium. When I flow with passion I tend not to remember words, mine or others so I deduced this by analysing what I remember my emotion being about. I remember hearing Laurence talking about something that I recognised as a phase of dissent. Part of the process. So not universally unnecessary. It is only un-necessary to go to the other extreme once you have re-balanced yourself on the axis between Yes and No. Reclaiming freedom of expression and movement.

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