Istifaa Ahmed

mY [blOOd] bOdY

The performance we will analyze is Untitled (2012), by black artist Tameka Norris, directly inspired by Ana Mendieta’s performance piece, Untitled (Body Tracks) (1974). In her work, Norris paints a wall using her body as both tool and medium. Norris runs a knife through a lemon before cutting her tongue. Pressing her body against the wall, she uses the trail of blood and saliva to create a minimalist landscape upon the gallery walls. The painting disrupts the notion of an institutional space, implying the undeniable presence of a body and its painful experience of sexual violence. Norris’s piece powerfully uses blood and body as medium, conveying a deliberate performance of frustration and agency while alluding to a legacy of performance art by women of color projecting their blood and body into public spaces. By projecting her body into public and historical spaces, Norris demands a decolonial, intersectional visibility of her body that forces questions of her race, gender, class and sexuality, and her interaction with the imperialist, capitalistic, white heteropatriachy. As black women’s bodies have historically been sites of sexual violence in private spaces, Tameka Norris has contests this secrecy by invoking her body and its pain endured into public spaces, forcing confrontation from the public domain. I will conduct my research through the lens of performance art in order to trace how these bodily performances address the historical and political violences committed against the black female body.