Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
A. K. Burns
Academic Program Adviser
I am interested in the way metaphors efface the terms of their comparison and what utility COVID-19 has when positioned within a metaphor. In Lacanian psychoanalysis, metaphors touch the subject, symbolized by the plus sign (+) or the crossing of the signifier into the signified. In the fall of 2019, I presented a performance in which three participants strategically shared saliva, nasal, ear, and vaginal swabs to therapeutically address my chronic illness. Currently in 2021, our conceptions of bodily sharing revolve around the extreme contagiousness of COVID-19. There is a demand to visualize this contagion as if “respiratory droplets” were precipitated by the disease itself and not an inherent function of the human body. If we read these respiratory droplets retroactively as always on and in us, COVID-19 has the potential to destabilize ideas about the boundary of our bodies and the ways this hypothetical boundary enforces physical autonomy and isolation. As metaphor, what can COVID line up with to position us as subjects who gave something up to establish an imaginarily enclosed body? The materiality of language in Lacanian psychoanalysis articulates the transformational power of words in metaphor, a transformative power that exists in both linguistic sharing and microbial sharing. In my performance work, and the work of healing, I take this property of language literally: it is at its most effective when it shares meaning. This applies to bodily healing, as following the transformational axis of words leads one closer to the transformative axis of the body. Words gel with the body and they speak, they say something. It is through metaphor’s relation to the sharing of bodily fluids that substitution (your nose for mine) can create a new subject.
Randall, Lily L., "We Miss Each Other, As in We Are Missing Each Other" (2021). CUNY Academic Works.