Fractured Bodies


The Jespersen Cycle, named after Otto Jespersen, details how we go from using one marker of negation to another.

In Old French, for example, the term 'ne' was used as the negative, 'not'.

'Je ne sais' meant, 'I do not know'.

Later, another word, 'pas' was added.

'Je ne sais pas' meant, 'I do not know'.

In modern usage this is still the case, at least in written French. However, in spoken French, the 'ne' is frequently dropped.

You could say, 'je sais pas'.

I don't know.


July 10, 2018, Croydon, South London
Tempting Failure Biennial of International Performance Art and Noise.
(Provocation: Fractured Bodies)

"We live in fractured times.

The immediacy of relationships lost, found and forged from the fires of these experiences seem to grow with a strength of survival and care that prior to this no one could have hoped for...

...somehow, with the growth of fascism, conservatism and extremism in our lives and the mediatization and bombardment of technology upon ourselves, we find separation and othering...

...screaming into the void is no longer an answer. Societal bubbles must be confronted and burst."

Dr T J Bacon
Artistic Director


A Nestlé logo hangs over Croydon. The nest on the logo attached to the top of a building like an aerie.

Janet, a National Trust guide, informs us that the logo is listed. It is a corporate symbol tattooed onto the body of Croydon for ever.

A brand.

A stamp.

Hard to hide.

Hard not to see.


Excrement, human excrement, is rather worthless on account of its ready availability and lack of application. We make it just by living and it has few practical uses beyond being a dubious source of fertilizer.

Not giving a shit means being unable to give away something trivial, something you are probably better off without.

It is more negative than 'not giving a damn'.

If there is a stock market for such things, you would need many shits to purchase a damn.

Our language is a language of worth, and in that language, 'shit' has little value, perhaps even a negative one.

Why would you give a shit?


I was there for an apicoectomy -- the surgeon peels back the gum and removes the tissue at the root of the tooth. That might sound brutal and invasive, but after a year of abscess and antibiotics it felt like a relief.

And then...

"What's this? How long have you had that?"

"A year, I think, I don't know."

"I think that is cancer. I think you have skin cancer."

The surgeon was correct. It was a small red bump, it was a basal cell carcinoma. The less scary type of cancer. It just needed removing -- dislocating from the rest of my body. Cancer isn't an infection, or a parasite, it isn't an invasion of the self, it is an excess of the self. It is more of you than there should be.

A square measuring 2cm x 2cm was removed from my right cheek. A nerve was cut during the procedure. I'm left with a few things.

1> A lack of tactile sensation on that side of my face.

2> A faint zig-zag scar and a corresponding right angle in my beard line.

3> The knowledge that this will likely happen again.

Basal cell carcinomas are fairly rare in the young. They more often occur in outdoor workers over sixty. People that have been exposed to a lot of sun. The fact that I had one in my thirties makes it likely I will experience more than one diagnosis and surgery cycle.

There are things I can do to reduce the chances of this though.

Stay out of the sun, wear factor 50 sun cream.

4> An illogical fear that haunts me.

I can live without the nerve in my cheek. The scar is fine and the beard-line is easily manipulated. There are worse places to get it.

What if it happens somewhere else? What happens if it is my eyelid?

This is illogical because my eyelids are the parts of my face least exposed to the sun. With the exception of brief blinks, my eyes are generally open when I'm in the world outside. When they are closed for longer periods -- when I'm asleep -- it is usually dark.

I have a nightmare where I can't close my eyes.


Forced to see.


"Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight"


Nestlé chairman and former CEO, Peter Brabeck-Letmanthe, calls the idea that water is a human right, 'extreme'. He also says, 'water is a foodstuff, like any other, and like any foodstuff, it should have a market value'.

Nestlé is the world's largest supplier of bottled water.

Over 780 million humans struggle to access water on a daily basis.

The World Health Organisation estimates that human beings need between 25-50 litres of clean water a day to maintain basic health and hygiene. They call this the 'basic water requirement'.

Nestlé 'Pure Life' bottled water currently retails at £2.50 for a six pack of 1.5l bottles.

That's £0.03 per 100ml
or £0.30 per litre
or between £7.50-£15.00 a day to maintain your basic water requirement.


June 12, 2018
Take Me Somewhere/Tramway 1
"Apollon" -- Florentina Holzinger/Campo

"Five women tackle the neo-liberalist cult of the body with all of their performative brilliance and vicious, physical virtuosity in Florentina Holzinger's Apollon, which limbos between the aesthetics of an occult fitness-studio, a cyborg-bullfight and a neoclassical ballet."

About a third of the way into the show, one of the five performers walks, with blatant purpose, towards a pair of jars set centre-front of the stage. In the first, she urinates. The second, she defecates.
She shits on command, on cue.
She shits with intent.
She shits with precision.
This is a planned and deliberate act.
Afterwards we talk to the performer as she draws on a cigarette with obvious joy.
"I can't smoke before the show, or drink coffee. It takes a lot of effort".

July 12, 2018
Tempting Failure/Matthews Yard Gallery Space
"Cloaca" -- Ariana Ferrari

"After ingesting a quantity of laxatives and diuretics the performer inserts a catheter in their bladder and a tunnel plug in their anus. The performer loses control of their sphincters."

About two thirds of the way into the show, the performer lies naked on a plastic covered floor. urine leaks from them and excrement gurgles out under its own force.

The performer lies there in a pool of their own waste. Passive and without apparent exertion.

Somewhere between these two performances a point is made. The point being that giving a shit means something different when it is done with discipline, restraint, control and effort. It means something different when it is just passively acknowledged.


Joseph tells me that the embassy has advised them to be cautious of speaking with an American accent during their visit.

The official advice is to 'keep a low profile' and 'exercise caution in the vicinity of large groups that may become violent'.

That night, Joseph takes to the stage and inserts a series of butt plugs increasing in size. One of them includes a laser. The room is turned into a disco.

A low profile.


The Jespersen Cycle illustrates negation by association. It is feasible that eventually we drop the 'don't' as the negation passes to the 'shit'. The phrase changes. The meaning changes.

I don't give a shit


I give a shit.


Trump is flown in by helicopter, much in the same way visiting politicians were flown into war zones -- Iraq, Afghanistan.

The locals are hostile.

The environment is hostile.

The twenty-fifth of my basic water requirement is warm and depleting. This protest, according to Nestlé, should, at least, cost me £0.30.

The sun is high and shade is scarce.

We walk to the square from London Bridge, sticking to the sides of buildings, darting out into the light and trusting that factor 50 offers protection.

Factor 50 means that you can spend 50 times longer in the sun than you can without it. Simple mathematics makes a mockery of this.

50 x 0 = 0

No matter how high the factor, I should not be here.

Of course I should be here.


July 10, 2018
American officials at the World Health Assembly in Geneva demanded a modification to a breastfeeding resolution. They threatened other countries into supporting their demands.

The Trump administration wanted a change in purpose, a change in language, in a resolution that called on governments to 'protect, promote and support breastfeeding'.

This resolution is designed to help poorer countries. It is designed to help the poorest people in the poorest countries. It is there to prevent predation.

Companies that produce formula milk seek to make massive profits in these markets, often at the expense of the health of children.

Clean, potable water is not always available. This makes formula milk, such as that sold by Nestlé, dangerous to give to children.

Fortunately, breastfeeding is an ideal solution. It costs nothing and carries far less risk for the child. The only one who loses out is the formula milk producer.

Ecuador is one of the countries where the promotion of breastfeeding could improve the lives of its citizens.

The US threatened Ecuador with punitive trade and aid measures.


The thought that a broken bone heals stronger is seductive. We want that which does not kill us to make us stronger.

It is not a fact.

The bone can only ever hope, at best, to be as strong as it was before the fracture.

The fractures leave us with memories of pain and imagined futures of personal disaster.

The act that caused the fracture is carried with us. It is incorporated. Our behaviour is changed.

Stay out of the sun. Stay indoors.

Lie there, eyes blissfully closed in the dark... your own waste.



Discipline, control. Sacrifice and effort.

Be fragile, be fractured.

Be there because of it.


Nestlé Tower/61 Park Ln/Croydon
79m Completed 1964

Trump World Tower/845 United Nations Plaza/New York City
262m Completed 2001

as Adam_Y on mastodon