Bodies of Work, Criminal Acts

Bodies of Work, Criminal Acts/Cuerpos de Trabajo, Actos Criminales

October 19, 2018 in Tucson as part of the Binational Encuentro

Bodies of Work, Criminal Acts explores the relationship between art, labor, the physical body, and the criminalization of racialized and marginalized bodies.  40 identical photographs of the artist are installed in a gallery each with a different price, from $40-$100,000. A red chair sits in a pile of shredded paper. The artist enters in the same outfit worn in the photographs. They begin reading from a sheaf of papers, identical to the ones shredded on the floor underneath their feet. The reading is a poetic interpretation of the police reports from the 2 years in which the artist and 2 other women were under surveillance. The reading includes the text the police use to describe the artist’s body, tattoos, and scars in great detail.

Living under capitalism and across borders, the actions of individual bodies change in legal status based on context.  Moving one’s own body from one place to another is acceptable, unless it is across a border or boundary. Engaging in consensual sexual acts is acceptable for any reason.  Unless there is an exchange of money or goods attached to that sexual act. Exchanging the labor of one’s body for payment is laudable, unless that body does not have documented status to be performing said labor.  The action of the body does not change, but the action has now become criminal, the body criminalized. Once criminalized, the body no longer belongs to itself, but to the state.  

How do we justify criminalizing bodies for actions identical to legal actions?  In Bodies of Work, Criminal Acts, Natalie Brewster Nguyen uses art and performance as an intervention to reimagine value, criminal acts, the autonomy of labor and sex, and the ownership of marginalized bodies. 

Each photograph is identical in every way, except has a different price point, from $40 to $100,000.  Every piece of art comes with a private conceptual performance by the artist. A gallerist will be on hand to determine which art piece is right for the buyer. 
Length:  Durational, at least 60 minutes

Available for booking.