Day 31:
Day 31:

Day 31:

Body types are funny right? People have this idea of what a body in sport looks like. But what sports? And if your body doesn’t fit the mould, does this mean your body isn’t an adversary? I’m strong and granted not as fit as I were when I left Japan, but I have endless energy and stamina? Wanna race? I can’t beat you over 100m, but you don’t stand a chance over 10 000m! Let’s do it!

Total Body Workout with Kexin Hao

I joined a workshop by Kexin How, who is a graduate of the Royal Academy of the Arts, The Hague. For her graduation work she compiled a set of sequences, performed as aerobics which she titles ‘Total Body Workout‘.

Based on nationwide physical exercise routines and mass gymnastic performances in Asia, the Eastern Bloc and the United States, Total Body Workout proposes a recomposition of the existing corporal movements and a reconfiguration of the past in the present. Here and now, we work out the total body. Radio calisthenics/广播体操/ラジオ体操/rajio taisō, a set of warm-up exercises performed to music and guidance from radio broadcast, was prototyped in U.S Marine Corps, introduced to Japan, and has become a part of public health program mandatorily practiced in China. The design, production, and performance are a product of the times it lived in — The Cold War, Olympic Games, The Cultural Revolution, economic reforms…History and social ideologies all have shaped and scripted the collective body. Personal physique, public health, national & world politics are woven together by the device of collective physical exercises. ⁣

During the workshop, Kexin talks about her childhood and how as a young child, her parents early on categorised her as not athletic but rather artistic. She had refined motor skills as opposed to brute strength. It’s a global phenomenon it seems, the divisions between sport and art. For most students, the idea that these two worlds can find balance seems odd. Most often students are forced to choose which outlet to pursue. Kexin’s story resonates with me, as I too was categorised in this way. People would make snide comments when I couldn’t run fast. ‘At least you are creative’, they would snicker. The Art High School I attended didn’t even offer sports in the curriculum since creative children were ‘physically incompetent’. I developed a deep distrust and lack of faith in my own physical abilities. It took me decades to recoup my relationship with my physical form.

I started this project with remembrance traces of my own body memory. I questioned how one’s body memory becomes an integral part of hegemonic historical narratives, how we inhabit a historical and totalised body, and how can my work reconfigure the past in the present, to unfold the history of body politics in a head-to-toe sequence.⁣

Kexin How