onCocreation: Rehearsing Cancer Ecologies; Sensuous Experiments for Joint Mutation in Cancer Art/Activism
- novella centellas, carolina
- Advisor(s): Dumit, Joe;
- Hunter, Lynette
Biomedical protocols and cultural metaphors of cancer enact the disease as an individual condition. The individualization of cancer isolates people diagnosed, objectifies certain bodies, hinders physical and emotional variability, centers individual risks while obscuring socio-economic corporate profit or environmental toxicities, cuts ecological relations, limits access to treatments, and detour potential intersectional connections. At the root, the individualization of the disease creates a split between ‘sick’ and ‘healthy’ individuals and serves, among other things, to limit the emotions and alliances that could transform some of the structural settings by which we are all living in toxic conditions and getting cancer., this dissertation starts from the premise that there is no more escaping: we are all -already- living with cancer. In addition to the increasing numbers of cancer incidence in the world, cancer has spread into our existences as a material-metaphor for the worst, a kind of somato-relational technique of horror, and as a mode of engaging health, toxicity, economics, research and all kinds of life on Earth, through fixed notions of hope and/or fear. As a community arts and experimental dance intervention into cancer-relations, this study is an investigation on rehearsal as method through the oncogrrrls project. Rehearsal as method aims at making cancer ecologies, interrogating and transforming how is cancer in the world, and the world in cancer. oncogrrrls is a project I/we launched in 2011 after my own diagnosis to make something about ‘it’ and do it together. oncogrrrls are series of creative residencies with women and queer individuals who, diagnosed or not, care about cancer. Rehearsal becomes a space for collective interrogation of situated cancer relations that extends into the making of a piece. How do we engage individual/collective change through performance making? What would happen if we treat cancer as an art inquiry instead of a biomedical certainty? The study also explores the questions emerging in different oncogrrrls residencies. Moving away from attempts at universal knowing, each question, situated in context, offers a line-through for the inquiry and an anchor to hold the cancer rehearsal as a transformative practice As a Practice as Research investigation the findings materialize in practices and concepts for oncological performance art and activism. To complete this dissertation I facilitated 10 creative processes leading to 5 performance pieces. The writing builds on phenomenological memories, documentation of creative process, close readings of moments, dreams, scores (sets of instructions used in the making of the pieces) and ethnographic notes and stories. The introduction tracks the emergence of oncogrrrls from my own physiological and performative experiences with breast cancer. Score inquiry (not representation)! Cocreate! Start in the Body! are three main principles that enfolded over the years. This study also proposes transposing as a meta-score ‘pick an issue, move it somewhere, notice what emerges.’ Transposing figures a movement practice, a technoscientific protocol where the oncological experience emerges as an intense transit with the potentiality of change, an opening of certain configurations to the richness of the possible. This dissertation proposes rehearsal as a mode of production from the arts to make cancer relations otherwise. Rehearsal, as joint curiosity, enacts the multiplicities already existing within cancer. onCocreation offers tools and concepts for artists, activists, health and social change practitioners interested in making cancer otherwise through somatic art inquiry, experimental dance, and community engagement.