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On crutches, choreography and (crip) care: curative objects and palliative things in two performance pieces

Melkumova-Reynolds, Jana ORCID: 0000-0002-9539-4115 (2023) On crutches, choreography and (crip) care: curative objects and palliative things in two performance pieces. In: Woolley, Dawn, Johnstone, Fiona, Sampson, Ellen and Chambers, Paula, (eds.) Wearable Objects and Curative Things: Materialist Approaches to the Intersections of Fashion, Art, Health and Medicine. Palgrave Studies in Fashion and the Body (PSFB). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, CH, 33 - 58. ISBN 9783031400162

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Identification Number: 10.1007/978-3-031-40017-9_2


This chapter considers the uses of crutches and other medical assistive devices in two performance pieces, bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS by Compagnie Marie Chouinard and The Way You Look (at Me) Tonight by Claire Cunningham and Jess Curtis. Drawing on recent iterations of crip theory rooted in new materialism and queer phenomenology, it enquires how, by affording different entanglements—between bodies, things/objects, space, and other bodies—crutches in these performances produce different relationalities, temporalities, subjectivities, and ontologies. This chapter proposes to think of crutches’ agency along two axes: curative/palliative and objects/things. A curative imaginary is predicated on the ideal of betterment; in such an imaginary, objects are employed to aid subjects in their quest for relations of mastery with the self and the world. Conversely, a palliative imaginary eschews the ideas of progress and mastery and, by extension, the subject-object dichotomy. Etymologically, the term ‘palliate’ is thought to originate from Latin pallium (a cloak); another tradition traces it to the proto-Indo-European pelte, ‘shield’. Palliative things, I argue, do not aim to facilitate progress; they are non-teleological. They step in to shroud and shield, to care without attempting to cure. In my reading, crutches and prosthetics in bODY_rEMIX act as curative objects: while standing ‘over and against’ (Heidegger, ‘The Thing’. In Poetry, Language, Thought (trans. A. Hofstadter). New York: Harper & Row, 1971) the performers or else helping them stand against the world, these devices are implicated in projects of mastery, articulating themselves, bodies and subjectivities as neatly bounded powerhouses of capacity. Meanwhile, in The Way You Look, crutches are deployed as palliative things that enunciate their own and performers’ bodies’ indeterminacy and interdependence. They enable ongoing pouring between bodies, things, and the world; they enact relationalities premised on being-with without securing, on cloaking without enclosing.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2024 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Date Deposited: 14 May 2024 13:27
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 06:03

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