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  • Jet van Groningen


Some years ago, I wrote three pieces about art - I decided to share them because they all have something to do with bodies and blood. Rough edged, because I do not like editing.

Warm chestslapping technowaves, dark atmospheres, sudden bouts of pleasurescreams. Antilopelike legs eneveloped by polyester red and a fake silver belt. Fine, black lace around a belly that moves with the rhythm of deepening sounds. Piercing eyes, bouncing feet, crawling on the floor like sorceresses. Bare legs, flexible hamstrings and long flowing hair. Images that flash out from a piece of art danced and directed by Wies Bloemen. A choreographer that works with young dancers to illuminate subjects around fears, racism, sexuality, gender, love and other life-and-death-subjects. For Lust for Life she worked with older dancers and all of them only women.

I am in awe – what those dancers are doing is showing what civilization never lets us show. When I think of older bodies I see before me the deterioration, the wearing down, the fading that is mostly shown. Closing up and zooming in on Lust for Life, you will find wrinkles next to glimmering eyes, flaps of flesh who give a deepening to the bellyrocking, crackele and thinning skin spanning loosely over fading fat. It opens my mind, just like Antjie Krog did with her poem on her lovers old loving body. Ripping apart rigid frames of thought – but this is not the main message of the dance. Light is shed on the non-limited capability of expressing that is pointed out – our bodies as a tool to portray, work through, dance out. Celebration of body, pleasure of limbs. A fear that takes hold of our chest and needs to be moved out. A pain in our gut that is only battled by crawling on the floor.

A celebration of our bodies is also shown by Kaouthar Darmoni – who gives powerfull workshops around the art of belly dancing and how to use your body to pave a way for matriarchy. When I was part of one of her trainings I was exhilirated by her pounding joy, breathtaking esthetique, beautifull rawness, raging strenght. She held space for all different kinds of women to dive into their souls to find courage, strenght and softness within themselves. By using her body to express both vulnerability and power, the most worthy of antipodes, she created a moving form of art. She showed me how you sometimes only need to sway your hips during a walk to exaggerate your cheer or to move your chest slightly up and down when speaking your truth. She showed me that art is something that is at the fingertips of everyone who knows how to reach.

And unfortunately: our world only has place for this when your body is thought to be fit to be displayed on a cover of a teenage fashionmagazine. For those who fit in moulds carefully layed out by society. Do you want to scream on top op your lungs and still don’t want to be looked upon as craze-ass – sure, but be young. Do you want to dance like crazy on a festival with bare belly and quickening feet – sure, but be young.

NO, is what these women are telling me: to feel both fainting bliss and drowning sadness in your body and express them, you do not need to be something specific, you just need to own a body. And we all do, how faded and real it looks next to the glittering image that is set before us.

A plead to deathstab the fashion-industry is worn out and exploited already many times before me, and rightfully so because the message it sends out is so toxic. The fashion-industry laughingly adds up to sickeningly numbers of women who vomit over their own mirror images. The elegant but viscious layed-out limits are constricting our ideas of what beauty is. We are led to believe that our wrinkles should be hidden, our fat is unhealthy, our curls are not chique, our acne is repulsive. And for this plead I am facing all my fellow human beings who work with a non-woke attitude in the fashionindustry: how do you think you add up to the fear of women to feal pleasure inside of those imperfect, nonfruitlike shaped, nonsymmetrical bodies?

Mannequins, fashioneditors, highenddesigners: what actions do you take, bearing this responsibility of adding a patch to a mishmash plaind of non-realness? What do you think we can do to unravel this plaid and don’t let the small patches add up to a fairytale all gone wrong?

Artist are responsible for what they are sending out – because art is one of the most inspiring, suggestive and strong forces there is in creating both boundaries and free reins. I am facing you and asking you: what is the art your body is contributing to? What is your body telling to our growing girls about their rights to make art out of their bodies.

I am asking to add one beat of a different drummer next to yours.

I am asking to add an askew patch next to your own.

There are no pathways to follow. It is a new road we are on.

It takes only so much to make art of a conforming body.

It takes awakening to show a non-conforming body holding the

same interiors of anger, longing, sadness, elegance, sensuality.

Be gentle. Be free. Be creative.

Find new ways to connect your

body of art to another

body of art, unseen

by all the standards.

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