Mother/teacher/artist/activist Tasha Diamant embodies vulnerability by appearing naked and unscripted in performance and in public. Healing. Dissidence. Art.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Change in location for 3rd vigil at #yyjfringe, Thu Aug 28 5-6

The third of five in a row Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at the Victoria Fringe will NOT be at Belleville and Blanshard as indicated.

Day and time: Thursday, August 28, 5-6 pm

Location: Quadra and Johnson, in hopes of catching the sun again

2nd #yyjfringe vigil


All welcome, dressed or un-

Media Release: 2014 fringes

victoriafringe.com

Support the work by buying a ticket: ticketrocket.org


Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils #yyjfringe: Today, Johnson and Quadra, 5-6pm

The second of five in a row Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at the Victoria Fringe is today.

Location: Johnson and Quadra

Time: Today, 5-6pm.

Yesterday's vigil.

All welcome, dressed or un-

Media Release: 2014 fringes

victoriafringe.com

Support the work by buying a ticket: ticketrocket.org

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils #yyjfringe: Today, Pandora and Quadra, 5-6pm

The first of five in a row Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at the Victoria Fringe is today.

Location: Pandora and Quadra

Time: Today, 5-6pm.

All welcome, dressed or un-

Media Release: 2014 fringes

victoriafringe.com

Support the work by buying a ticket: ticketrocket.org

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On the Death of Robin Williams (with thanks to Amy Salloway)


Thank you to Amy Salloway for the post below, which I have copied from Facebook with her permission. 

I share many of the same thoughts about the death of Robin Williams (and Philip Seymour Hoffman, who I was just crying for again the day before because I saw A Most Wanted Man and, to me, his pain was so very palpable). 

I also live in the pain place--endless, non-stop boatloads of grief and rage. And I am not mentally ill. I am mentally sane.

My work in the Human Body Project is about staying alive. 

The Human Body Project is also about me facing up to my responsibility for being an accomplice in a broken system.

And trying to make the invisible visible. Here is some grief and rage speaking: I also do it because I feel surrounded by so many other accomplices who have NO FUCKING IDEA and no desire to know. WAKE UP WAKE UP WAKE UP I am forever futilely shouting in my head. One thing my many accomplices do know: the pain place sucks so much, much better to leave that shit for the sensitive among us to process. Who gives a shit what or who gets destroyed in the process?

For those who need to think of it as illness or don't get it, I'll tell you one more thing: having to explain is what makes me personally feel the most suicidal.

Below is what Amy Salloway has written:

I'm pretty torn up about Robin Williams.

I loved his work, and thought he was brilliant, and had decided in my head that he was a really kind, good person, just based on how much humanity and gentleness shone through all his roles (and also based on his episode of "Inside the Actor's Studio", which is so freaking amazing, omg).

There are a lot of people writing stuff today and tonight about depression, suicide, mental illness, getting help.

I wrote a series of (possibly incoherent) tweets on Twitter, and I don't expect anyone to read or understand them, but here they are in slightly edited form.
---------
Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Our culture is inexcusably broken.

We've made this world harsh and unforgiving, judgmental and punitive, and yet we cry, BE FUNNY! BE VULNERABLE! BE PRETTY! BE SEXY! ACHIEVE! EXCEED OUR EXPECTATIONS! and believe that the people we expect that of (be they friends, partners, relatives, movie stars) can just…do so, with no deleterious consequences.

And when there are consequences - which there are, all the time - we don't want to know about it. We make that clear.

No one should have to walk around hiding anvils of pain, grief, fear, insecurity, dread, frailty, self-loathing. No one should live with abject loneliness.

But so many of us do.

I do.

I don't believe this latest huge, heartbreaking loss is about "get help", "get meds", "call a hotline". It's so much bigger than that. It's about how we see being HUMAN.
What I am saying is: we are, much of the time, HORRIBLE VICIOUS ANIMALS to each other. Not all of us. And not always. But a lot of us, a lot of the time. Competitive and snarky, rude and unavailable, dismissive, distant and too busy, and unsupportive and greedy and manipulative and dishonest, and just downright MEAN. And it doesn't even occur to us to be any other way, or to question whether this is really how we want to pass our precious time on the little blue planet, tossing the people around us into a metaphorical trashcan.

Until there is a loss of life. And then, suddenly, we get all weepy-eyed and say, Oh, how sad. Oh, why didn't he know how he was loved?

Why??? Because we TURNED AWAY when he NEEDED us. NOT just in those last five minutes -- no, by then it's pretty much too late. He needed us a LONG TIME ago, and we weren't there. We weren't there to "love", to be friends, to listen and offer support, to be present and to help out with whatever the fuck would help, like creatures do for each other.

God forbid we're needed. God forbid we actually take responsibility for someone or something outside ourselves…outside our safe, orderly, handcrafted lives. 

God forbid we put someone else FIRST, truly see and acknowledge their failure, struggle, imperfection and despair, allow it to remind us how small and weak and fragile WE really are as well. God forbid we get shaken out of our comfort zone. God forbid we have to open our eyes and become aware of how we're lucky and someone else isn't…or how maybe we're not that lucky at all..or how maybe we're part of a problem we didn't know about…or any other hundreds of thousands of realizations that might force us to consider changing in some way.

Our culture makes it uncomfortable and unacceptable to need help. Our culture makes it equally uncomfortable and unacceptable to be the one who's being ASKED for help. 

How the fuck is anyone supposed to win?

This is a BROKEN SYSTEM.

I loved Robin Williams, and Spalding Gray, and many other amazing artists who gave in to the pain and grief wrought by trying to be authentic and vulnerable in this very fucked and unforgiving world…and I don't blame them for their choice, EVER. 

I am actually totally, 100% down with their choice.

Because I live there too. 

Every day, I live there. 

Right now.

But people? It sucks. Beyond words.

And we will keep losing our brightest, most raw, most insightful, most vulnerable people if we don't figure out how to make this world KINDER and more COMPASSIONATE, for REAL. If we don't figure out how to fix things so that no one has to feel so fucking achingly, grindingly abandoned and alone.

I have zero answers, but I know that we have the chance over and over every day to change how we're present for each other…how we hold each other up…and how often we choose to extend out lifelines of empathy and compassion instead of ego, apathy, and abandonment.

Let's agree to stop losing each other.
xoxo

Monday, August 11, 2014

Media Release: Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at the 2014 Victoria and Vancouver Fringes

The Human Body Project at the 2014 Victoria Fringe (Aug 21-31) and Vancouver Fringe (Sept 4-14)


"the most relevant and powerful work at the fringe" 
“urges us to recognize the power of a single human body”
"naked, emotionally and literally"  
"simply audacious"

Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at the Victoria Fringe
victoriafringe.com

Where and When?
There will be five street performances of Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils

The vigils will be held near fringe venues in downtown Victoria. Aug 26-30, 5-6 pm. 
August 26 5-6 pm Pandora and Quadra
August 27 5-6 pm Johnson and Quadra
August 28 5-6 pm Belleville and Blanshard
August 29 5-6 pm Broad between Pandora and Johnson
August 30 5-6 pm Pandora and Douglas

Locations may change due to unforeseen circumstances so check humanbodyproject.org for confirmation.

What?
Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils, as a form of street performance, will be part of the site-specific pieces at the Victoria Fringe.

For a Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigil, Tasha Diamant stands naked in public to share and create a space for vulnerability. She holds a large sign in a gesture of gentleness for those who are deeply affronted by public nudity.

It is a ritual or practice of "being the change," non-violent direct action, participatory democracy, etc.  People are always invited to join her and often do. 

Photo by David Howell

Who?
Tasha Diamant, 52, is a mother, performer, and activist. She started the Human Body Project, an ongoing performance art project, in 2006. She is also a university professor, yoga instructor, and visual artist.

How?
People will be able to buy tickets to Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils via ticketrocket.org but there won’t be actual ticket collection. To "buy a ticket at the door" people can contribute to a hat on the sidewalk. Tasha is inviting people to buy tickets to support the work.

People are also invited to watch or even take part in some participatory democracy. Taking part might mean holding a sign or just engaging in conversation with Tasha, other participants, or people on the street. 

Tasha is the only person committed to being naked. People who join her can be as (un)dressed as they choose. Signs will be provided.

More Background
Tasha has been holding Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at least once a month since January 2012. 

Lately, she has been using the extinction symbol on her sign (@extinctsymbol), a symbol created to draw attention to the global extinction crisis. She will also bring the VULNERABLE sign and other words.

VULNERABLE was the word on the sign for a long time. Then Tasha switched to different words that also evoke consideration of vulnerability (e.g., HOLY, COMPLIANT, PARADIGM).

Also at the 2014 Vancouver Fringe
vancouverfringe.com

The Human Body Project is a mainstage show in the Vancouver Fringe (six shows, Sept 4-14).

Tasha is also holding a free Human Body Project Workshop during the Vancouver Fringe (Sept. 12), after which she is holding a Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigil.

For more information contact: Tasha Diamant
tashadiamanthuman@gmail.com

humanbodyproject.org
twitter @HumanBodyProj
Human Body Project Facebook page 

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." A. Einstein

-30-

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Human Body Project at the 2014 Victoria and Vancouver Fringes

The Human Body Project at the 2014 Victoria and Vancouver Fringes

"the most relevant and powerful work at the fringe" • "naked, emotionally and literally" • "simply audacious"

Who?
Tasha Diamant, 52, is a mother, performer, and activist. She started the Human Body Project, an ongoing performance art project, in 2006. She is also a university professor, yoga instructor, and visual artist.

Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils at the Victoria Fringe

What?
Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils, as a form of street performance, will be part of the site-specific pieces at the Victoria Fringe this year.

For a Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigil, Tasha Diamant stands naked in public to share and create a space for vulnerability. She holds a large sign in a gesture of gentleness for those who are deeply affronted by public nudity.

It is a ritual or practice of "being the change," non-violent direct action, participatory democracy, etc.  People are always invited to join her and often do. 

Where and When? 
At the Victoria Fringe there will be five vigils.
Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils • Aug 26-30, 5-6 pm

The vigils will be held near fringe venues in downtown Victoria.
August 26 Pandora and Quadra
August 27 Johnson and Quadra
August 28 Belleville and Blanshard
August 29 Broad between Pandora and Johnson
August 30 Pandora and Douglas

Locations may change due to unforeseen circumstances so check humanbodyproject.org for confirmation.

How?
People will be able to buy tickets to Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigils via ticketrocket.org but there won’t be actual ticket collection. To "buy a ticket at the door" people can contribute to a hat on the sidewalk. Tasha is inviting people to buy tickets to support the work.

People are also invited to watch or even take part in some participatory democracy. Taking part might mean holding a sign or just engaging in conversation with Tasha, other participants, or people on the street. 

Tasha is the only person committed to being naked. People who join her can be as (un)dressed as they choose. Signs will be provided.

May 2014 Vulnerability Vigil

More Background 
Tasha has been doing Vulnerability Vigils at least once a month since January 2012. 

Lately, she has been using the extinction symbol on her sign (@extinctsymbol), a symbol created to draw attention to the global extinction crisis. She will also bring the VULNERABLE sign and some other words.

VULNERABLE was the word on the sign for a long time. Then Tasha switched to different words that also evoke consideration of vulnerability (e.g., HOLY, COMPLIANT, PARADIGM).

Human Body Project Workshop at the Vancouver Fringe

What? As part of the Vancouver Fringe, Tasha is offering a free or by donation Human Body Project Workshop. Shortly after the workshop Tasha will hold a Vulnerability Vigil near fringe headquarters and is hoping that some participants will join her.

Description of the workshop: The gesture of showing up naked and unscripted is about creating a space to share and honour vulnerability. This is visceral, risky work. Co-create a felt experience of embodied connection beyond our culture’s destructive limitations.  Come with an intention to do no harm. Know there is room for imperfect communication. Participants share and (un)dress as they choose.

Where and When? 
Friday, September 12 • 1:30-3:30pm
Studio 1398
1398 Cartwright St on Granville Island
Vancouver
(+ Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigil • outside at same address, all welcome • 4:30-5:30pm)

How?
Just show up.

For more information contact: Tasha Diamant
tashadiamanthuman@gmail.com
Follow Tasha on twitter @HumanBodyProj
"Like" the Human Body Project Facebook page
"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it." 
A. Einstein

Friday, July 18, 2014

Application to Speak at TEDx Victoria

This is for sure my third, if not my fourth, application to speak at TEDx Victoria.

I am prepared for further rejection but I can share my proposed talk on my blog (this includes writing from previous blog posts):


Einstein said: No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.

Audre Lorde said: The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.

But industrialized culture has us humans more stuck in old systems of domination and destruction than ever. A simple way to put this is: civilization is destroying civilization.

I believe the main reason behind this stuckness is that, because of deeply ingrained cultural and neurobiological tendencies, we have created a world where the body has no place in the body politic except to reinforce old strategies of safety.

Since 2006 I have been showing up in performance naked and unscripted. An irony of the project is that this simple statement provokes enough of an emotional reaction that, if anyone is patient enough to notice, it handily demonstrates that even the suggestion of placing the body back into the body politic affects consciousness rather strikingly.

I share and create a space for vulnerability by showing up as authentically and vulnerably as I am able to in the moment. Another of the project’s great ironies is that I need to create a performance to arrange such a situation.

Performances are voluntarily participatory and experiences vary. There are conversations and silences, tears and confusion. The gesture of showing up vulnerable and undefended allows many people to encounter a rare, non-dogma-related experience of a much deeper connection with humanity while in community with strangers.

My work can be seen as non-rhetorical cultural criticism/cultural realignment. One of my arguments/experiential offerings is that, at this time in human history, we must finally acknowledge that we are all intimately related.

So, yes, my work seriously disrupts notions of what is private and what is public. My work also echoes what many indigenous cultures already know and embody.

I believe that the only way forward for humanity lies in acknowledging and owning our shared vulnerability. We are at a place of urgency where, in my opinion, the privileged people of the world are called to expand beyond the concept of human rights into taking on human responsibilities.

In other words, my audience includes the TED audience and other privileged Westerners. We created the mess, we have the most power, and we have the most responsibility.

My project is called the Human Body Project and, while it intersects many disciplines and categories, can best be categorized as performance art and activism.

One key reason the work lies in the realm of art is because, although I am outspoken about many issues, my body and self as an artifact exist outside of ideology and political affiliation.

In January of 2012 I decided to push my work beyond performance venues. I committed to doing a Human Body Project Vulnerability Vigil at least once a month until I die.

For a Vulnerability Vigil I show up naked in the street for an hour at least once a month.

September 2014 Vulnerability Vigil in front of the VAG.
Because I understand that people on the street may be seriously affronted by public nudity, I always hold a large sign, which for many months was a really long word: VULNERABLE. Lately I’ve been holding a sign with the extinction symbol on it.

There are many reasons I decided to take the work out into the street:
  • As I said, the work intersects many disciplines and categories but, as you can imagine, there is almost no place for it. I can’t even begin to list the various rejections. Mostly it has existed in fringe theatre festivals, which are lottery-based. And, even if chosen in the lottery, it is expensive and difficult for me to get to any beyond Victoria and Vancouver
  • As an outlet for my own grief and rage
  • To stand in some solidarity with the world's most vulnerable
  • To continue to provoke a serious consideration of our own and our planet's vulnerability


So I also see the work on a continuum of non-violent direct action. We live in a democracy and, if nothing else, what I’m doing is peacefully disrupting status quo and practicing participatory democracy.

Doing what I do is WAY outside of the culture I was born into—privileged, upper middle class, female, white, Canadian born in the 1960s—and WAY outside my comfort zones.

So what's it like to do what I do?

I am a supersensitive person. Through years of dealing with my pain and shame, I have come to understand that I am like a conduit for the unfelt feelings of others. I am pretty much always dealing with resistance, disgust, pessimism, depression, rage, as well as physical symptoms. I feel stuck and complicit in a culture of mostly invisible brutality. I often struggle to breathe.
I especially relate to this piece by Mark Fisher, another activist, scholar and person who uses his grief in his work. He links depression to social conditions and says "Someone who moves out of the social sphere they are ‘supposed’ to occupy is always in danger of being overcome by feelings of vertigo, panic and horror… you have no right to be here, now, inhabiting this body… you are a nothing, and ‘nothing’ is quite literally what you feel you are about to become.”
My grotty house and stinker kids are also pertinent to the question. I am a 52-year-old mother of two precocious kids under 13. I am older than many of my youngest daughter's friends' grandmothers. Also, my kids are related to me. They are delightful and exhausting.

So doing the Human Body Project takes place, for me, in a context of complicated shame, anger, and fatigue. 


I mentioned earlier some of the background to this work. It's not about "thriving" or "joy." My work is often dismissed as a downer. Although I do often end up having fun and enjoying myself, which is a nice bonus.


Before a Vulnerability Vigil, I will often collapse, sometimes for days. I don't have a woman-cave in my house and I am challenged setting boundaries with my spirited children. I am also severely challenged by the attention-deficit-juggling modernity requires. And I'm also a pure and simple idiot at asking for what I need (partly because I'm not sure it even exists; I’m a none-of-us-has-made-it-until-all-of-us-has-made-it kind of a gal).


Collapsing is, I think, my being's way of recharging. It sucks though, because anything resembling normal functioning is very difficult.


Right before I show up to a Vulnerability Vigil, I feel like puking. 


I have done more than 30 vigils. My experience is they don't get easier.


I am afraid of conflict. Haha. I am always going against my training and epigenetic make-up that cause me to be compliant. I worry a little about arrest, but more about cops and what they represent. I don't want to be rude or disrespectful! I really don't. I am a born and trained conformist who can't find anything to conform to.

I worry about my children's friends' parents seeing me. I worry about my neighbors seeing me. I worry about meany-bums. I worry about people thinking I'm crazy. I feel crazy.

Then there's my body. Did I mention that I'm 52? I guess when I'm 60 I'll think I looked good. I started the Human Body Project eight years ago and that woman I was then, whom I thought was rather flabby and aged, now looks quite fetching. Let's just say the flab and agedness continue apace. Plus hairiness.


Then there's the whole being naked thing. I feel shame. Not because it makes any sense at all. It does not. Unless you count the millennia of training my people have sustained. So I do.


So, I show up at a place.

I find it difficult to speak to whomever I'm with until we get going. I am metaphorically evacuating my bowels and speech is difficult.

Getting undressed is tricky. I am conscious of not feeling sexy and my not perfectly sanitary underwear. I try to find a place to be discreet. I hate it when I forget a bag to put the clothes in. They get rained on a lot. 


It's always cold. But my armpits are always sweaty.


One winter vigil this year, for instance, was particularly nasty. The person who was with me and I were not able to last the full hour. During the time we were out there freezing, I started singing and dancing. I often do sing and dance a little bit but this time I was so cold I did it the whole time. I was jumping and squatting and full on doing my own version of a tribal dance. It felt good. 


I may not be naked positive but, like skinny dipping, being naked outside feels good on my skin. I like having air on my vulva. Even frigid air. We have affinities, of course, but I don't consider myself a nudist. I get where they're coming from though. Bare skin is freeing. 


We're undressed and trying to get in place and hold the sign in front of us awkwardly at first.


The sign is big and unwieldy, weirdly heavy. I have often used words that are eight or more letters. Honestly, I would just write FUCK every month because that would be easier and really sum it up for me, but I see how it might not be gentle. Holding the sign for an hour is difficult. My fingers get cramped and my arms and shoulders sag. 


I always think about the placement of the sign, where we will stand, how it will photograph or be seen. I am annoyed when it blows around or someone isn't holding it taut.

I am always annoyed, period, by the compromise of the sign. As an artist, I want people to be jarred out of complacency. But at the same time I don't like the idea of getting in people's faces. It feels unkind. The sign is there, as I mentioned, to shield my nudity because for many people public nudity is so affronting. It's a compromise and a gesture of gentleness and I keep making that decision because it feels right but it still annoys me.

Victoria cops are quite respectful. If cops come over and seem uncomfortable, I offer to put on my underpants. There is no cause for arrest if genitals are covered. 


They always say it's because kids might walk by (I'm behind a sign and in front of a hedge, but ok). I always feel bad for them. Mostly they don't look like they want to bother us.

I inadvertently scheduled a vigil at the Santa Claus parade launching area. We were there much earlier than the parade start time but, still, a paddy wagon, ghost car and several police dudes hung about the whole time. Unnerving to invite so much weaponry.

Vulnerability Vigils give me an opportunity, as a privileged person, to experience a broader understanding of my relationship citizen to state.

Some people think I'm brave and, by addressing and taking on my demons, I am. But I also find my demons so pathetic. So a cop takes my name. So my butt is flabby. So I feel embarrassment and shame. So what? Big deal.

But that's what I'm working with. It's such a not big deal and, I would argue, the nub of what's killing us.

In other words, those difficult emotions hold me back and, I would guess, hold many people back. But I am living at a time when my difficult emotions are hardly the point, especially when I have the opportunity to make a difference.

A Vulnerability Vigil is an experiential exercise in, among other things, containing paradox. To spell it out, my pain living in my culture leads me to actions outside of my culture that lead to different difficult feelings, including feelings of ostracism and futility. Challenging.

People ask me what my goal is.

“Being the change,” public education, inspiration… I suggest that my activism is a version of non-violent public ritual and action, a form of art.

Edward Burtynsky, the great photographer of landscapes transformed by industry, talks about how he positions his work: “If I say this a terrible thing we’re doing to the planet, then people will either agree or disagree. By not saying what you should see, that may allow them to see their world a little differently. It’s not a simple right or wrong. It needs a whole new way of thinking.”


I’m doing what I am able to create that new way.