Dear Body is a unique digital collaborative project between Chats Palace Hackney, and feminist theatre innovators, Athletes of the Heart.
Conceived and directed by Anna Furse, Artistic Director, Dear Body will engage with people of all ages to invert the habitual dislike of and sometimes anxiety about our bodies, or body parts. Through sharing positive body image messages our hope is that we may deliver the self-care so many are needing during the lockdown and beyond.
Social distancing has required that we each spend more time on social media and conferencing platforms. Looking at our faces through the medium of technology has allowed us to focus on flaws we did not know we had. If body positivity and personal confidence is challenging in normal times, in the heightened, anxious world lockdown has created it is even more difficult. Dear Body tackles the issue of ending body-shaming and asks everyone to behave differently so we may all feel less pressure.
Anna has been inspired by the idea of the blason – a Renaissance poetic form in which the smallest body part such as an eyebrow or earlobe is praised by the poet. She has used this in her performance ‘Anna Furse Performs an Anatomy Act, a Show and Tell’ and in many workshops since with arts and health workers, medics and artists, to encourage people to convert negative self-image into a selfie-eulogy. The exercise has proved hilarious and liberating for everyone involved.
Dear Body workshops will be offered free of charge to groups who are interested. These will introduce Furse’s way of working with, through and from the body in creative ways. Contributors – from these workshops, or those who are just interested in becoming part of the project – will be invited to depict and describe their feelings about the body part they want to talk about. This may be in the form of a photograph or drawing with recorded voiceover or written account. The gathered images, together with sound, will be edited into a visual digital installation – an immersive experience that clusters all stories onto the screen so that in the end the images become smaller and smaller, the voices more and more a global polyphony. The viewer will be able to choose a single image to home-in on, to see and hear a single individual’s voice, or call up a series relating to a body part.
Dear Body is a project designed to promote mental wellbeing and positive body image at a time of immense change, increased isolation and altered mental and physical states for swathes of the global population. Simple to engage with, it invites contributors to become part of an online community of body-positive voices. Anonymity will be guaranteed.
Athletes of the Heart
Athletes of the Heart was founded by Anna Furse in 2003. Devoted to transgressing artistic, cultural and geographical boundaries, the company collaborates and co-produces internationally. Each project responds to the specific conditions in which it is being produced – seeking opportunities to connect a process to a production over time – evolving a dramaturgy through physical training and research, focusing on the raw presence of the performer and an essential, poetic and vibrant scenography. The company has created works for hospitals, a car park, a science centre, art centres and theatres and has used cyberspace innovatively for international collaboration.
Following 9 years of work on infertility issues and Assisted Reproduction (The Art of A.R.T 2001 – 2008), Furse has worked in a range of innovative productions including commissions from the Little Angel Theatre, BBC Radio, CREATE Ireland and the Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation; Co-productions in Belgrade with Dah Teatar and Ljubljana with Mladinsko Gledalisce; Festival premieres at Live Collision Festival and FEeAST; International workshops and projects including Athens, Palermo, Beijing and Ireland; Residencies in Delhi, Athens and Bogota; and a range of talks, special events, mentoring and publication.
Her recent production ‘Anna Furse Performs An Anatomy Act’ was a CAPP EU/Live Collision Commission, followed by a further commission to produce an interactive digital artwork ‘I Am Not a Piece of Meat’ in 2018 that captures the production archive and extends the research scope in innovative, interactive design.
Athletes Of The Heart
Marks and Co, 100 Church Street
Brighton. East Sussex BN11UJ
Reg Company No 4754656