The pandemic has undeniably affected the way we humans organize ourselves in societies. As I have expressed through my artistic work, the pandemic does not only raise our concerns in public health, but also extends to a new perspective in the fragility of social structure and how inequality becomes manifest when we struggle to keep societies functioning in a life-threatening situation. In their essay Capitalism Has its Limits in 2020, Judith Butler (2020, n.p.) mentions that: “the question of who will live and who will die seems to our President as a cost-benefit problem that the markets will decide. Under such conditions, how do we post the question of what consequences this pandemic will have for thinking about equality, global interdependence and our obligations toward one another?” This market-driven economy is obvious in the U.S. but also around the world.

My life does not belong to me. As I constantly emphasized and repeated in the monologue of my performance, we adopted the capitalistic way of living and made choices according to it. In this sense, the actions and choices of one’s life are not exactly autonomous. As the pandemic situation is so intertwined with the economy, we don’t have much choice, knowing that vaccinations could be a way of cure as well as a way of entrepreneurs capitalizing global suffering. The situation has highlighted our interdependence as social creatures as well as potential danger it has to others. How we thrive and feel alive around each other relates to the concept of interdependency, but so do interactions that endanger others’ lives in passing the virus. At the moment of writing this, it even hurts me to know that I am privileged enough to write about this, to afford the time to write, to produce and think through art. Many other people strive to live through working and earning and even during the most dangerous times in the pandemic facing the risk of dying. Judith Butler (2022) in their new book “What world is it?” discussed this grievability in depth. Butler argues equality is still far beyond our reach and that certain lives are deemed more grievable and valuable than others based on the current social and political factors. For example, during the pandemic, essential workers, who are often low-paid and have limited access to healthcare, have been disproportionately affected by the virus. They are also more likely to live in crowded housing conditions and rely on public transportation, which puts them at higher risk of exposure to the virus.(Butler 2022) Meanwhile, people with higher income and more privileged backgrounds have more resources to protect themselves, such as the ability to work from home and access to better healthcare. Moreover, the pandemic has also highlighted the global interdependence and the way inequality is intertwined with it. For instance, some countries have been able to secure more vaccines than others, leading to unequal access to vaccines and exacerbating the divide between the rich and the poor. This situation poses a challenge to our sense of responsibility towards each other and raises the question of how we can better distribute resources and ensure equality in times of crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on daily life in Hong Kong, particularly in terms of food and dining. In March 2020, the government implemented a ban on dine-in services at restaurants, leading to an increase in demand for food delivery services. Many workers in the restaurant industry lost their jobs, while those in food delivery faced increased pressure and risk of infection. Blue-collar workers who for example work in construction sites were not able to dine in restaurants because of the ban and had to have their lunch on the street without a shelter from rain or sun. (Fung 2020)

One of the most fascinating aspects of the 21-day quarantine experience was that it created a sense of detachment from the world. The time and space I perceived in that room somehow felt distant from society, allowing for an unusual way of being "with" the world. As Foucault (1990) argues, our bodies are subject to disciplinary practices that categorize and differentiate them hierarchically. However, the social disciplines incorporated in or otherwise influencing my body became rather invisible when I was alone in that hotel room.

The exchange of information became less immediate, and I could block out the updates of society by not engaging in social media. There was no other bodily presence other than myself, allowing me to block out the gaze and potential objectification from society. It gave me the time and space for an intimate conversation with myself and my body, scrutinizing the traces of how my body and identity come to be how they are through past corporeal experiences of objectification.

The 21 days in quarantine allowed me to see things differently. I finally saw the death drive inherent in me, which came in much stronger intensity while I was alone. There was always the tendency to diminish myself to a point that "I" could disappear. Society is full of stimuli and ideologies that require us to have an identity to anchor ourselves and react to the environment. But what if I don't have a static identity? How do I place myself in this world where everything has to be loud and big?

Listening to my body, I hear no sound but the rumbling of my stomach or the thumping of my stressed-out heart. Yet, the body gives me information, signals, and suggestions that I have to experiment with, trial and error, to truly know and cope with. Disguised by daily activities, I never had the chance to truly listen and know my corporeality. I was always forcing it to dance to society's expectations, becoming a socially expected and desired body figure.

The hotel room and the 21-day time span allowed for a unique way of being "with" society. It created a distance that made me aware of the disciplinary practices imposed on me by society, and allowed me to have an intimate conversation with myself and my body. Although we can never become fully aware of what is inscribed in us and our bodies through the disciplinary practices, in the specific context of Hong Kong and the pandemic crowd and public is worth noting. Hong Kong is a very small place with a huge population, there are currently 7 million people living in the 1,114 square meters of Hong Kong. In this city, one easily becomes apologetic for one's presence (or maybe it is just me). I noticed how this spatial proximity with others affects my thoughts and emotions strongly when I was taking a bus. As usual, the bus is full. It is a 45-minute bus ride that I always take from school to home. Everything seemed normal but some non-verbal and non-conscious interaction happened with the person next to me. He’s big and occupies more space than the single seat and reaches towards my space. Perhaps the usual response would be feeling irritated that my space is being infringed. My natural instinct is, however, to keep myself in a smaller shape resembling a fetus so that perhaps he can have the space he needs. This happened without any awareness, moments after being in the fetus position, I feel so different emotionally than when I first got on the bus. Now I have forgotten what the emotions or feeling is about, but the one thing that I have noticed is how bodily posture has a strong impact on one’s feeling and even psyche. Coming to think about the style of daily commute to work in Hong Kong, we are not only metaphorically a tin of sardines like Hong Kong people like to joke about, but we are literally embodying the packness and following the crowd senselessly. The capitalist world provides us with all sorts of distractions, even from the fact of our mortality.

Going back to the 21 days quarantine experience, the above-described are the sort of social disciplines or physical contamination that I can be away from. It made me realize that the only thing I am certain about myself is my death drive, and that sometimes I eagerly rush towards it, but fear and other concerns make me stop. Sometimes I start thinking about a way to exit the world with a deep focus that my body enters into a stillness then I can only snap out of it when the fleeting time suddenly alerts me. It is perhaps a similar sensation to when I dance but the way I perceive the death drive through movement is less scary. I understand that cells are dying every second and somehow those little deaths are more comforting than scary. Everyone is moving towards their death every second. Slowly or quickly, gradually or unexpectedly. Our existence is marked by the ephemerality of our beings. “There is nothing more human than suicide” (Critchley 2020, 88). In Critchley’s (2020) discussion of suicide, he is just like me, or all of us, finding a way to live, to cope with the pain, darkness and solitude within oneself. He mentions that to be human is to have the capacity to kill oneself at each and every moment(Critchley 2020). To me, to be human is to make a conscious decision between life and death, not to be floating in an ambivalent existence, drowning in the feeling of the imprisonment of being, which is extremely difficult as life is perhaps an ontological prison. The physical imprisonment of my body vs the imprisonment of life. I cannot and do not want to escape the prison of life at the moment so I try to live in a way that is acceptable to myself and society, concealing myself with masks that are just another layer of social concealment.

Despite all this, I try to live a life that seems acceptable to both myself and society. It's a balancing act that requires me to put on different masks at different times, concealing and revealing parts of myself as needed. The pandemic has only made this more complicated, with the mask becoming a physical embodiment of the invisible social masks we all wear. But even as the mask feels like another form of imprisonment, it also offers a strange kind of freedom. Behind it, I can hide my face and my emotions, shielding myself from the judgments and expectations of others. And sometimes, the mask even has the power to stop unwanted conversations before they start.

In this way, the mask becomes a symbol of the strange and complicated relationship between the individual and society. We are free to choose our own paths, to dance or to crawl, to live or to rush towards death. But at the same time, we are also trapped within a web of social expectations and norms, constantly adjusting our masks to fit in with the world around us. It's a limping, stumbling kind of freedom, but it's the only kind we have. And so we keep moving, keep dancing, even when the weight of society feels suffocating and our cries for help go unheard. Because the worst thing that could happen would be to sit still and feel sorry for ourselves. And so we keep moving, keep limping, keep dancing, in the hopes that one day, we might even fly.

In thinking about imprisonment, social inscription, my body and selfhood, some phenomenological insights seemed helpful. Iris Young writes that:

Existential phenomenologists of the body [who] usually assume a distinction between transcendence and immanence as two modes of bodily being. They assume that insofar as I adopt an active relation to the world, I am not aware of my body for its own sake. In the successful enactment of my aims and projects, my body is a transparent medium. For several of these thinkers, awareness of my body as weighted material, as physical, occurs only or primarily when my instrumental relation to the world breaks down, in fatigue or illness… Being brought to awareness of my body for its own sake, these thinkers assume, entails estrangement and objectification… Thus the dichotomy of subject and object appears anew in the conceptualization of the body itself. These thinkers tend to assume that awareness of my body in its weight, massiveness, and balance is always an alienated objectification of my body, in which I am not my body and my body imprisons me.(emphasis added) They also tend to assume that such awareness of my body must cut me off from the enactment of my projects; I cannot be attending to the physicality of my body and using it as a means to the accomplishment of my aims. (Young 1990, 164)

Am I my body? Does my body imprison me? I would say this dichotomy of subjectivity and objectivity of the body is a result of socialization. As society often emphasizes the importance and the transcendent potential of the mind, the body is often neglected and viewed as inferior or even shameful. This results in individuals feeling disconnected from their bodies and perceiving them as separate from themselves, leading to objectification and a sense of imprisonment. However, embracing the immanence aspect of bodily being can lead to a more holistic and authentic sense of self, freeing oneself from the constraints of societal norms and expectations. Before reading about corporeality, I wrote a text related to my relationship with my body and made it into part of my short film.

As someone who has lived in Hong Kong throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the issue of face masks has been a constant topic of discussion and controversy. A timeline article by Fung(2020) in Hong Kong Free Press provides a detailed account of the various stages and scandals surrounding the scarcity and distribution of face masks in Hong Kong, and how they have been represented through memes and social media. The article highlights how in January 2020, when the virus first began to spread in Hong Kong, there was a sudden shortage of face masks due to hoarding and the government's slow response in procuring enough supplies. This led to long lines and fights breaking out at stores selling masks. In May 2020, the government distributed locally-made reusable masks to all residents for free. However, many people declined to wear them concerning their effectiveness. The government was also criticized for not following its regular tender process to choose the masks’ manufacturers, while some questioned where there was conflict of interest and transfer of benefits. The issue of face masks was also politicized in Hong Kong as masks were a symbol and a necessity of protest in 2019 and the government for the first time after the hangover executed the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and established the anti-masks law. Then in 2020 the government established the mask mandate which has stood till the last among the world. The mask mandate was only lifted in March 2023. The use of memes and social media to comment on and criticize the situation became widespread, with some examples cited in the article. (Mok 2023) My relation to the above-mentioned conditions the pandemic put forth had a profound effect on my artistic thinking and practice. This will become more evident in the later sections of this thesis.

This is a monologue from the third person perspective of my mind, talking about its relationship with the body. She is the mind but not the whole me. Actually the word “trusted possession” is not the best translation, in the original text, it was “trusted matter”. It documented the struggle when my body was faced with a traumatic injury and how it affected the equilibrium of the body and mind. In a sense, from the text you can tell that the trauma doesn’t solely affect the body but also the mind, and in a way that the mind cannot figure out the logic of it, what the mind can do is to try to listen to the body and continue on living together. To me, there is no dichotomy of the body and mind, although we can try hard to split them apart, they are actually a symbiosis. As I wrote in the monologue: “The relationship between her and her body is like that of particles inside an atom, each upholding a function of its own.”

The interplay of body and mind is undeniably crucial; nevertheless, exploring the division between them can yield significant advantages, particularly concerning body image. By detaching the mind from the body, individuals can cultivate a more analytical and impartial outlook on their physical selves, enabling them to question and challenge societal standards and expectations. This, in turn, can lead to a heightened sense of agency, self-acceptance, and empowerment. However, it is worth noting that such a separation should only be temporary, as establishing and sustaining a healthy and harmonious relationship between body and mind necessitates a continuous dialogue and integration.

In the realm of art, dance, and theater, the practice of splitting can be an invaluable tool for investigating the intricate relationship between the body and the mind. By intentionally disentangling the two, artists and performers can delve deeply into the immanence and transcendence aspects of corporeal existence. Through the use of movement, gesture, and performance, they can examine the contradictions and tensions between the body as a physical entity and the body as a vessel of subjective experience. Consequently, the split can offer novel opportunities for creativity and expression while also deepening our comprehension of ourselves and our connection to the world around us.

Gaze and transcendence of corporeality

The changes of corporeality in the Pandemic

The life of a company dancer focused fundamentally on technique training and craftsmanship before the “pursuit of art” or in a sense that the technical perfection is already the art. My image and self-worth lay strongly on each and every performance opportunity. It felt as if there’s no point to continue the training when there’s no performance and no audience. The changes in daily routine and the online shift or lack of interactions with others were functioning as social factors affecting my sense of self without actual changes in my physical appearance. We might assume that the postural and habitual change of almost everyone was similar during the pandemic, but such changes are actually deeply related to one’s social and economic status as well as the bigger picture of how different societies function in different regions. One important thing that I noticed in Hong Kong is that many were still going to work and there was still a significant crowd during peak hours in public transport but the biggest difference was the use of masks. We tried to protect ourselves and others with masks. At the beginning of the outbreak in 2020, we were already vigilant and everyone would wear masks if possible. The mask was a symbol of protests in 2019, but it suddenly became a daily necessity in 2020 all the way to 2023. It is hard to describe what a mask means to us anymore. Is it fear? Distance? A minimal border between individuals? We even have to keep our masks on when we are dancing and rehearsing in the company and even during performances, one person would need to change at least four masks a day because they would become soaking wet with sweat. How luxurious it is when some people don’t even have one mask per day?

The result of the temporary shut down of theaters led to the drastic change of my body image. I did not feel fit, motivated. When I was in my 21 days quarantine, eventually, I enjoyed being in the 20 sqm hotel room. The limited space allowed me to fully grasp my bodily being and presence. I enjoyed the company of myself and some online entertainment. I feared for the possible interaction once I would exit the room. Dance also becomes something different to me, I no longer dance for others but for myself, I realized the need to move and dance happened less frequently, but the moments it did were all genuine. I naturally moved to the music or an imagined beat when I was happy. I no longer forced myself into training the techniques of ballet and contemporary dance. My mental state was also strangely calm.

Perhaps the next question would be: What does this experience tell about corporeality and embodiment in the context of this artistic research?

In the discussion below I will borrow concepts from phenomenology to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic’s significance on corporeality. The experience marked a strong impact on the topics of body image, body schema and body without image. This personal account reflects on the subtle fluctuations in my body image along with the changes of the environment and my perceptions of them. It becomes evident that corporeality and embodiment are deeply intertwined with the environment and the perception of the self. The fluctuations in the body image and perception can be seen as a reflection of the constant interaction between the body and the environment. As I moved through different landscapes and experienced different sensations, my body image and perception shifted accordingly. The way I perceived my body was not fixed, but rather a fluid and dynamic process that was influenced by the surrounding environment. This highlights the importance of recognizing the complex interplay between the body and the environment, and the impact it has on our perception of ourselves. Nevertheless, one thing I would really point out is that the process of the change is subtle, non-definitive and located in a zone that cannot properly be captured by language.

As a performer, I have always constructed my image from the gaze of spectators, but this is a practice that is framed within the scope of a rehearsed organized performance. The performative frame allows me to position myself in a way that is distanced from the image I put on and facilitate for the audience. It is a general understanding that the theater is a constructed illusion but my experience showed me that “the fourth wall” is not an airtight container. The theater is a porous being, my body image in life and on stage are interrelated and interchangeable. Like the practice of method acting, dance is an artform that requires a deep embodiment of movement to deliver the dance on stage, we nevertheless face the objectification of our bodies apart from the movement we perform. Once I build an image for a choreography, it is not like I can jump out of the embodiment in a split second once the production is over. The body image of a dancer is fluid with the changes of practices and choreography and is always under a certain gaze or objectification by either others or myself. With the practice of dance, my understanding towards relationships with the spectators urges me to predict their perception and reaction. I always think to myself, what would they think if they see a body/ movement like this?

Perception and Corporeality

After training my body vigorously to achieve vast movement possibilities to be a professional dancer, my focus moved onto how to make it a good performance for the audience. This practice is in a way constantly imagining potential perspectives of spectatorship and objectifying myself under them. Gail Weiss (1999) challenges the conventional insight that objectification is a negative phenomenon and even a form of oppression. In her book body images: embodiment as intercorporeality, she references the discussion on the “split subject” or fragmentation by Iris Young and Sandra Bartky who condemn the societal attempts in taking away the potential of transcendence by reducing women to mere bodies. Weiss argues that the experience of objectification or even self-objectification is not sufficient to bring about psychological oppression and asks if there are ways of understanding fragmentation in a non-oppressive and positive way. My way of artistic practice is an embodied example of the splitting process. The dance training required me to think of the materiality of my body and train it as an instrument, alienating myself from the full and complex understanding of my body. While the action of constantly putting myself under actual and imaginative gazes caused estrangement with my corporeality, I am actually siding with Weiss that it might not be a purely negative thing. This practice allows me to think of my body not only from my subjectivity but also the ability to put on multiple imaginative lenses of potential spectators. In this sense I am much closer to the spectators and allow for a possibility to “touch” them already as I approach and construct my performance within the imaginary gaze. Every attempt to “touch” is at the same time capturing an image of myself, before the performance is shown in front of the audience, there are countless times that I have already captured myself, “a specular extract of oneself” (Merleau-Ponty 1968, 255-256). The way Merleau-Ponty discussed the aspect of touch is a way in which we experience a sense of unity between ourselves and the world around us, which in a way, is orientated from the self. The way I see touch is similar but with a stronger emphasis of touching other beings in the world, not just the world as an abstract concept. It is important to note that when you are reaching towards, trying to touch, you are at the same time being touched.

In the idea of an active spectatorship, the emancipated spectator by Rancière (2009) has suggested that the act of spectating is not a passive act. The audience are actually also reaching towards the performers with their presence and gaze during the performance. In this sense, what I appreciate with my splitting practice is in a way trying to open up to the spectators in a way that allows them access to likewise embody the rehearsal just as they embody the performance. The splitting practice might have led to the unstable and contradicting body images I have towards myself, but it is not sufficient to prove that it is the only cause as there are influences from other factors. It is also important to note that no matter how hard I tried to split myself, I cannot “control” the effects of the performance. It always required the spectators’ initiatives to complete the performance (in a way), in the form of their active presences, to play the role of active interpreters, who “develop their own translation in order to appropriate the ‘story’ and make it their own story.”(Rancière 2009, 22) The results of the splitting practice is perhaps reduced to an empathetic approach and imaginary experience of others’ lives, which nevertheless is an invaluable perspective in constructing a work of art.

Taking the example of my artistic work “how are we still alive here? what about there?” The essence of this work is strongly on considering the perspective of the potential spectators and to construct the work in a way they can easily enter without any prior learning in the code of art and theater. In considering the movement, use of text, videography, installations and spatial arrangement, I always try to make them in a way “accessible”. The appreciation of art and aesthetic does not equal the act of attending a theater performance, which is mostly in the differences in expectation and preconception in spectatorship. The audience has to buy a ticket and travel to the theater to attend the performance, the information they received from the poster and promotion has created a certain expectation of what the performance is or should be like. As I have mentioned, a concern for the marginalization of contemporary dance performance, how I value “the contemporary” or contemporaneity lies in the bigger context of contemporary society, which urges me to think of contemporary dance performances as a means to address issues of the current society and take them into consideration when constructing a performance. In this sense, wouldn’t it be silly if I want to address social issues but the stakeholders of the society have no idea what I am talking about through my art?

I would argue that one of the biggest reasons for the marginalization of contemporary dance is its lack of connection to the contemporary world. Dance performance makers are not thorough in considering the importance of how the world has shaped our perception. The empirical science has provided us with an observation of the shortened attention span (Technical University of Denmark 2019) due to the blast of information. Some still consider dance to have always been embedded in the history of humanity as the first form of non-verbal communication. However, despite its obvious ability through embodied performance to comment and narrate about timely issues, with its diverse lexicons and styles contemporary dance is now-a-days often considered difficult to decipher. Additionally, in an interview with dance critic Sarah L. Kaufman(2022), choreographer Mark Morris has spoken about the challenges of capturing and holding audience attention in an era of digital distraction, and has developed strategies for engaging audiences through meaningful choreography and stagecraft. However, this discussion has only taken place during the Covid times and the value of virtuality and remediation is not taken seriously- They are just a substitution when the live performances cannot take place. Although I did not engage with online creation in my thesis project, the consideration of a mediatized society and perception of time and space is what I focused on in constructing the form of “how do we stay alive here? what about there?”. The way I tried to address spectatorship led to the use of various media.


From the challenges raised by the Covid-19 pandemic

The changes in my perception

Perception is not passive.

I have never viewed the word perception with a passive connotation as when we would use the word as a verb like “I perceive the world.” It is, however, important to clarify here to what extent is perception an active process. Is perception just active in the sense of processing exterior stimuli and meaning-making? Or is it like how the phenomenologists see it that it is an active process of understanding the world with intentionality? As artists, perhaps it is fundamental to reflect on our perception when we engage in artistic practice. The reason why I need to engage in the discussion of perception in this artistic research is two-folded. Firstly I am interested in the dramaturgy of spectatorship and how the spectators perceive performances and how understanding this provides insight for artists in the creative process. Secondly, I am interested in how my personal perception of the world especially under the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic affected my individual strategic approach to my artistic practice while being fully aware that the Covid-19 experience is both collective and individual - transindividual.

One thing that I noticed in the pandemic is that the emphasis on interdependency and grievability raised by Butler become prominent in social discussion. Human organization has always been social and communal, globalization has also allowed that dependency to reach much further with digital online technology. We perceive the world not only in our proximity, but also further away with the assistance of digital gadgets. Yet it is important to note that our perception is also dependent on our privileges, for people from other parts of the world where they have limited access to computers and smartphones or without stable internet connection, the lockdown experience might have been a different situation. This has an impact as to whom you could reach and relate to, and who could share and grieve the situation together. With the huge threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in this globalized world, in my view, there appears to be a better chance to talk about “us” through art, to better relate to everyone through this shared grievance and pain, a transindividual experience. It manifested as a common feeling that allowed me to initiate dialogues and talk about my experience in Hong Kong with the community in Helsinki although my very different background would usually put me in the position as an outsider. I see this artistic thesis as a chance to grieve with others, through the exhibition and performance. The dramaturgical consideration is how to acknowledge the specificities of the different situations that spectators and I have been through and what are the commonality that I can address in the work.

Perhaps I can start with talking about my personal changes in how I view my presence in the pandemic situation. I was working in a dance company in Hong Kong when Covid hit, we tried to keep things as usual, moved some performances online and kept the daily training and rehearsals either online or in the studio. However, to me, it felt somewhat pointless as there would be no actual performances without live audiences. I felt that the situation had no end in sight, even as other countries began to loosen their pandemic policies (it was at the end of 2020). I then decided to quit my job and leave Hong Kong, trying to audition for companies in other countries and apply for my MA study. Throughout the journey I made various choices, and I ended up being stuck in London, which came at a cost, with no place to live and with lots of doubts and rejections even from some good friends who were concerned that I might be carrying the virus (that is before the use of quick tests). I couldn't fly back to Hong Kong because of the outbreak of the then new Delta virus variants in the UK. While other countries let their citizens fly back, Hong Kong banned its citizens from doing so for three months. After I was back, I also had to pay for my hotel quarantine fees for 21 days in a room with no windows. My experience with Covid-19 did not start with lockdowns. The virus has been very close to us since the beginning as Hong Kong is right next to mainland China, but we managed to keep the infection numbers low and keep most of daily life as usual. The 21 days in the hotel room is the first time I experienced such a rigid isolation. It did not break me but rather gave me a different perspective in life. I found myself asking, what am I doing here?

It is easy to regard the experience of the pandemic as an experience of isolation and loneliness due to the actual reality of mandatory distancing. It is also an undeniable factor that led me to start this research. I personally experienced deep frustration and loneliness as well, but is the pandemic the only reason to blame? I rather see the pandemic situation as an opportunity for me to realize my buried thoughts that surfaced through my solitude. The artistic work “how are we still alive here? What about there?” is the investigation into my personal perception of the recent world. I looked into how the changing world is embodied in me in ways that affect my artistic practice and my thoughts. Through examining the past and present of myself (without a dichotomy of body and mind), I will further explore the topics of corporeality and remediation.

Here’s the text translated to English:

The body is her most trusted possession. This is a weird description indeed. She perceives the body as neither a mate nor a partner, but a passive instrument. That doesn’t mean she disregards her body. The relationship between her and her body is like that of particles inside an atom, each upholding a function of its own.

Many decisions she made in life were related to the body. At the lowest point of her life, it was her body that told her she needed to get moving, leading her out of her room to live a new life. Her body motivated her to dance and even to become a professional dancer. She thought her relationship with her body would stay the same forever, but she was wrong.


She knew it was mostly her fault that she tore her right knee’s ACL. Her body was spent and needed a break, and yet she was too focused on frolicking around to give her body attention. Then, she could no longer discern what her body was telling her. All she could hear was wail, pain and ache.


She couldn’t figure out whether her body refused to communicate or they fell out of touch. Either way, their relationship had shifted. There was no longer trust between them; she needed to walk on eggshells with every movement, in fear of accidentally injuring her body.


A year has passed since the accident, it seems like she and her body have more or less repaired their relationship. The truth is, however, she still can’t face up to her body. It’s as if there is a layer of clear vinyl film between them–you can see and feel each other, and yet there’s always a barrier. It is only during sex, in the company of another person, another body, that she and her body can have a brief, but certain connection.


Here’s an account of my diary on the 20th day of the quarantine. It documented my constant question and motivation in knowing why I dance as a dialogue between my splitted selves, embodying two personas.

Text in Chinese: