Colour your shit from Somatic Experience Workshops (2013)
Consume something which will colour your poo. I have been wanting to do a rainbow using synthetic dyes but I decided it was a better idea to give everyone the opportunity to choose something natural if they wanted. There are some beetroot and some corn as well as blue and green food colourings available to choose from. Making a rainbow was kind of a by-product of the task to begin with. The main part of it is to eat a reasonable amount of a food with the motivation that you are consuming it as an experiment, not just because you’re hungry. Then, to see how long it takes for your body to process it. There might be a day or two of monitoring your bowel movements a bit more attentively than usual. So feel free to choose what you would like to do, or if there is something else bowel-y that you have heard of and would like to try, you’re most welcome to do that. I am happy to provide your food of choice and can drop it to you somewhere. Beetroot and corn do work best, as does blue and green food colouring.
I did not do a coloured shit. From the outset of these workshops, it was the task that my ears pricked up the most at. I did not evade doing it entirely purposefully, but I was pretty relieved that my life circumstances for the week did not allow me to prepare and eat coloured food and wait to shit. I feel very unaware, somewhat deliberately so, about the processes of my own body. It is uncomfortable for me to think about its insides. This is not because it is a reminder of mortality; hypothetically, I feel total acceptance about death. I know that it’s important to understand that humans are animals, but our biology nauseates me. I have always had a queasy, bodily reaction to thinking about the body in anatomical terms. I won’t pretend that I don’t find something gross about shit. But this is perhaps because it is the visible externalisation of those internal, invisible, ignorable processes.
Two of us devised a plan to do a rainbow shit. In the end, we both cooked up corn kernels in different colours. We hoped that the kernels would absorb the dye but remain undigested so that small flecks of colour could be seen in our shit. The husk of the kernels would not absorb the colour very easily even after 20 minutes of boiling in dye. I ate a lot of corn that breakfast! We both had similar results where the green and blue dye was present in our shit but the red dye was absorbed somewhere in our digestion.
I didn’t have the intention of skipping this task, but somehow that’s what happened. Initially it was the most confronting to me but I was looking forward to something that would be challenging. The week of the task I was headed to my parent’s place for the weekend. They’ve actually started growing their own vegetables and I know the beetroot had been doing well, so I planned to eat lots and lots of it and see how that affected me. Unfortunately going regional for the weekend meant I promptly forgot any responsibilities and ignored anything on my to do list. It occurred to me later that I could make it up easily by guzzling a bottle of food colouring, but as yet I have not done this.
Somatic Experience Workshops (2013) promoted discussion about bodies by experimenting with each participant’s attentiveness to their individual bodily experience and the experiences of others. The workshops ran for a six week period with weekly group meetings. Participants received a take home task to complete in their own time. Each participant was given the opportunity to share and reflect on their experience of the task during the meetings. Tasks included using a netipot, focused attentiveness, bodily enjoyment and observing bodily experiences of others. Participants were asked to document or respond to their experience in the form of a still image and/or written response. These responses can be read here.
The workshops were held during Leena’s residency at LEVEL ARI’s Residency Program, at Metro Arts from July-September 2013. The outcomes of the workshops were exhibited at the end of the residency at the exhibition More Human in October 2013.
Thank you to all of the participants who completed the workshops, LEVEL ARI and Metro Arts.