Artists: Juliana Huxtable, Carolyn Lazard
Venue: Shoot the Lobster, New York
Exhibition Title: epigenetic
Date: May 5 – June 17, 2018
Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.
Images courtesy of Shoot the Lobster, New York
I was a bloodchild, but turned into something else.
Facilitator: Ok, I hear you. Let’s start over again.
Client: I’m having trouble remembering to be honest. Every time I try, I just see nothing, no image, but I remember how it felt.
F: Ok, well, can you tell me?
C: Sure. I just remember feeling confused. I felt deeply loved and deeply mistreated at the same time.
F: Ok. Why do think you felt that way.
C: Something changed in me. I was trying to navigate two different ways of seeing the world. It was a moment of transition.
F: Even if you can’t remember the whole story, tell me the details you remember.
C: It’s so strange, I think of this moment all the time but…when I try to remember it all I can see is the texture of the walls underneath the paint. The door wasn’t fully closed and there was a sliver of light coming into the room from the hallway.
F: Ok, let’s try to work on this event together. Can you pick a cue word to conjure this image, this memory, during the session? What word would you like to use?
C: Hmm I’m not sure…How about “extraction?”
F: Great, we can use that. We will do a set of bilateral stimulation to help you process your experiences. I just want you to notice whatever comes up. You may or may not experience images, memories, emotions, or body sensations. Whatever happens is ok. There is no right or wrong way to do this. If you do become distressed it is normally better if we just carry on processing. I want you to try to tolerate as much emotion as you can.
I’m going to start it now and we’ll sit with it for a few minutes. [Cue video]
F: Follow the movement with your eyes. Do not move your head, just move your eyes back and forth.
[2.5 minutes in silence]
[2.5 minutes in silence]
F: OK. Let’s try to remember as best as you can.
C: I don’t know. There was a light coming into the room.
F: Let’s back up to the beginning.
C: My father died and it became time for our family to offer one if its young. I had been groomed for it from a young age. She asked me as if I had a choice and I said yes as if I did. It was my duty.
F: How do you understand this to be your duty?
C: I saw a botched pregnancy so I decided to become a surrogate. I thought that this would minimize the harm. Every family must offer a boy as a host to one of them in exchange for asylum. This was the condition of our being able to stay here. When we first arrived, it became clear that our bodies were perfect for hosting their larvae. They needed us and they essentially tried to domesticate us. Over time they stopped treating us like animals, the preserve was created, but we still have to carry their eggs for them. This has been our relationship for generations.
F: Did you find the botched pregnancy disturbing?
C: Yes and no. I understood that it would happen to me one day. I grew up around them my whole life. I never found them strange. I identified with them even though I knew that I was not actually one of them. But when I saw the harvesting of the larvae from the man’s belly, I realized that I was more like the man than like them. I’m really, really not one of them. I felt that difference inside.
F: Do you have negative associations with this event?
C: I knew what was required and I did it. I grew up. But it was hard and I’ve never forgotten it.
F: OK. What do you see?
C: I see the chair across the room and the arrangement of the furniture? A desk. A rug. A lamp? [pause] I could hear my brother downstairs. He shouted something and I knew that he was so close and yet he sounded so, so far away from me. [pause] I drank one of her eggs and began to feel very relaxed. I was in a fog. She drugged me but I knew I had to be drugged for it to happen. I didn’t even feel pain when she implanted the eggs inside of me. I don’t remember much. The light [pause] coming from the doorway.
F: Yes, the light. [pause] This must have been hard for you, to not be in control of the situation.
C: I only felt shame before and after. But not while it was happening.
F: Is anything coming up now.
C: I just see and feel the movement of her body up against mine. So fluid. I didn’t understand how she could move so fluidly. Almost like floating but with many little legs. [pause] She held me against her firmly. Or Gently? I don’t know. I felt trapped and safely held at the same time. I knew she would take care of me. [pause] My mom was so ashamed of the whole ritual and I felt her shame come up in me. It was not my feeling, but she rose to the surface of my skin.
F: Where are you locating this feeling in your body, how does it feel?
C: I’m sinking through the chair. Half of me is here, the other half is falling into the ground. And my wrists are heavy. My ankles are heavy. As if they are locked down. I feel like I couldn’t move if I wanted to.
F: Just notice it. Just observe it. It’s already happened.
C: [frantic breathing]
F: What do you want to change about this memory?
C: I just wish I had more control than I did.
F: OK. Is it possible that this could actually be true?
C: It’s possible.