Colossal Colon

Today I visited the Colossal Colon. It’s a forty-foot long tunnel, representing a human colon; you can crawl through it, and see all the diseases to which the colon is subject, culminating in full-blown cancer. I had to go because I am hereditarily predisposed to be at a high risk for colon cancer; but mostly because of the sheer perversity of such an anal representation. And indeed, though the purpose of the exhibition is high-mindedly educational–to warn people of the medical risks, and urge them to get tested for colon polyps or cancer–it really best works as a bizarre piece of participatory installation art. Somehow I erased my photo of the entire thing, with me entering it at the upper (intestinal rather than anal) end; so instead I have put up a photo of the repulsive interior.


Today I visited the Colossal Colon. It’s a forty-foot long tunnel, representing a human colon; you can crawl through it, and see all the diseases to which the colon is subject, culminating in full-blown cancer. I had to go because I am hereditarily predisposed to be at a high risk for colon cancer; but mostly because of the sheer perversity of such an anal representation. And indeed, though the purpose of the exhibition is high-mindedly educational–to warn people of the medical risks, and urge them to get tested for colon polyps or cancer–it really best works as a bizarre piece of participatory installation art. Somehow I erased my photo of the entire thing, with me entering it at the upper (intestinal rather than anal) end; so instead I have put up a photo of the repulsive interior.

Chantal Michel

Here, in Graz, as part of the Masochism conference/festivl, a performance by Chantal Michel. She’s on a thin ledge outside the building, one story up, wearing only a white nightgown. Her hair hangs over her face, which therefore we cannot see. (Can she see us?). She is nearly motionless, at most there are slight movements over her arms. She must be cold, she must be in a position that is hard to keep stable–as I write this she’s been up there for more than an hour. An incredible force of will, then, at the service of expressing an image of total vulnerability. She does nothing, just stands there–waiting for what? Will the police come and take her away? (They were called, but left). Will she come back inside of her own free will? Will she have to be forced and cajoled? She probably wouldn’t die from a one-story fall, but she certainly would be injured–if I didn’t know this was a performance, would I think someone was trying to commit suicide? We, in the street, cannot help relating in some way to her mute otherness, though we cannot actually reach it. She demonstrates for us the falsity of our positions, as people in the world, going about our ordinary business.

Here, in Graz, as part of the Masochism conference/festivl, a performance by Chantal Michel. She’s on a thin ledge outside the building, one story up, wearing only a white nightgown. Her hair hangs over her face, which therefore we cannot see. (Can she see us?). She is nearly motionless, at most there are slight movements over her arms. She must be cold, she must be in a position that is hard to keep stable–as I write this she’s been up there for more than an hour. An incredible force of will, then, at the service of expressing an image of total vulnerability. She does nothing, just stands there–waiting for what? Will the police come and take her away? (They were called, but left). Will she come back inside of her own free will? Will she have to be forced and cajoled? She probably wouldn’t die from a one-story fall, but she certainly would be injured–if I didn’t know this was a performance, would I think someone was trying to commit suicide? We, in the street, cannot help relating in some way to her mute otherness, though we cannot actually reach it. She demonstrates for us the falsity of our positions, as people in the world, going about our ordinary business.