Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
Somatic Sorcery: in conversation with Francesca Mariano
Monday, February 22, 2021 | Adina Glickstein
Francesca Mariano is an exemplar of balance in unbalanced times. Spanning media (and maybe even multiple dimensions), her creative practice carves out space for connection that encourages pause and pleasure, contrary to the Internet’s default setting of disembodied drift and information overload. To me, the most salient dimension of Francesca’s work is that it affords generous space for nuance and contradiction. She approaches online life with a rigorously critical gaze, yet the Web is a frequent subject in her work and her visual output drenched in digital aesthetics. From Instagram dance documentation to movement seminars in “Archaeo-Choreology” and “Water Info Transmissions” (with dance therapist Sophie Mars), Francesca probes the somatic-political pools of perception. Her projects range from experimental music à la Intuitive Gestures to leading residencies at Nuova Atlantide fusing exploration of language, movement, and landscape. She draws on the language and history of the New Age movement but works strenuously to avoid appropriation, criticizing the commercialized “wellness” industry as vociferously as she critiques the Enlightenment idea of a mind-body divide. A further testament to this nuance is the deliciously ironic fact that Francesca and I first connected via Instagram. I can’t remember exactly how I found her, but I recall the moment of being moved to tears by a video of her dancing to Burial. For a platform that essentially generates revenue by making us feel inadequate so that we compensate by compulsively buying the products that pop up in our feeds, I have to hand it to the algorithm for doing right by me on this one...
Labouring to keep the body fit for labour
Thursday, November 19, 2020 | Adina Glickstein
Inevitably distracted from the writing task at hand by the tension in my neck, I find myself in a new tab where the phrase “Why is the Aeron chair so expensive?” auto-completes in my search engine. My resentment towards the obligation to work beyond the limitations of my bodily capacity is directed at this object: a top-of-the-line office chair designed by Herman Miller, wrapped up in the legacies of Modernist design and “human factors engineering.” The chair’s glistening curvature promises to cradle one’s wrist, delivering it to the keyboard at an angle so comfortable, one could type forever. It takes on the form of a luxury exoskeleton: rising to meet the body in a perfectly-structured caress. But like a skeleton, in its support, it also constrains. The Aeron is a metonym for ergonomics more broadly, a discipline founded on offloading the responsibility for a systemic problem—the strain of repetitive labour, be it at a desk or on a factory line—onto the individual worker. The fantasy of reprieve offered by the ergonomic chair placates the drive for revolution; labour feeds neatly into purchasing power, entitling the work-weary to rest their behinds and indulge in an individualized, market-based solution.