Foreword to Other Kin

For too long have we been in these bodies. These bodies pushed and changed by predators and climate, then held stagnant by technological advances and comforts. The human body feels unchanging and the pain of that stasis has never been searing but a long dull ache as the slow reality of biological evolution sets in. What were we before this? We came from gas, fluid; we developed mass; we lived in water until we crawled onto the land. From scales grew fur. We didn’t ask for this but it happened anyway. Chosen by our parents and their parents through time and time and time, shaping my hands into four fingers and an opposable thumb while I lose my tail cos it started to look weird and they told me to stop climbing trees. 

 

When we think of bodily freedom we can’t think of medications, knives, threads and anaesthesia. We’ve heard once they cut something off you start hating something else instead anyway. We don’t long to look at home in a swimsuit competition or to be able to walk into a public restroom without a soft hand on our shoulder. We want to piss on their lampposts. 

 

We are not the first and we will not be the last. I have found our brothers and sisters; we are everywhere, and always. We are in their workplaces, their schools. We are written into their histories, their blockbusters. They document us unknowingly, unaware. 

 

And so, friends; I have found our brothers and sisters. I have explored their catalogues and archives, excavated what I can. Through their mess, I have found our brothers and sisters. We can recognise ourselves in a way that no one else can. A moment of eye contact and a nod in the street. Blink and you’ll miss it but I see you. I see you as you are. I see your flesh your hair your teeth your eyes your cuts and bruises your sweat your fur your talons your claws your tail your wings. I see your phantom limb. Do you see mine? 

Thank you to George Gibson for commissioning this text for her book Other Kin (2020), produced for the exhibition Soft Bodies at Castlefield Gallery. It can be read online here.

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