CULTURE & ARTS
01/13/2015 10:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Fat Femme Artist Picks Apart Your Preconceived Notions Of Beauty

Day after day we're fed image after image of a certain body aesthetic: tanned, toned, waxed, oiled and perhaps a little digitally retouched. Today let's do things a little bit differently.

We want to honor beautiful bodies that break the conventions we encounter in magazines, on television, on billboards and just about everywhere else. The radical and magnificent dance theatre performance Nothing to Lose deconstructs the oppressive body ideals that govern so many of our desires, cherishing the impact of real, human forms. Directed by Force Majeure's Kate Champion, the work is a collaboration with artist and fat activist Kelli Jean Drinkwater.

"As an artist and a woman of size my creative practice and my body politics are inseparable," Drinkwater explained in an email to The Huffington Post. "Exploring ways to reclaim spaces and platforms that are often prohibitive to 'othered' bodies is a huge inspiration. I also enjoy the aesthetic potential of taking up space."

bod
Photo by Toby Burrows

For years Drinkwater has used art and performance to communicate her experience in a fat body, using humor and strength to challenge limited representations of bigger bodies and embolden fat positive visibility. (She also founded a fat femme synchronized swimming team called Aquaporko! which makes our hearts soar more than we can adequately express.)

"I was looking to make a movement piece using big bodied performers when [contemporary dance choreographer] Kate Champion approached me to collaborate with her on 'Nothing to Lose.' I loved that we were both conceptually in sync but coming from completely different perspectives. It was a very timely meeting."

bod
Photo by Toby Burrows

Champion's company Force Majeure issued an Australia-wide call out for people that self-identified as fat, larger, or bigger bodied, distributing the message to body acceptance communities and creative and queer networks. The response was overwhelming, which, to Drinkwater and Champion, only reaffirmed the importance of the project.

"Kate's interest in the choreographic potential of fat bodies as well as her intuitive approach to bringing out performers' inerrant movement is, I believe, the only way a work on this subject could be achieved with authenticity and respect. Both Kate and I are fascinated by the societal obsession with fatness and the way that impacts the movement potential and potency of having an entire cast of undeniably large bodies on stage."

bobo

The resulting dance show features real bodies in motion, expressing courage, grace and fire at once, turning the human body into a vehicle for change, a mode of resistance. The subjects, donning bathing suits and lingerie, revel in the many peculiarities of flesh on the go; every wrinkle, dimple and fold speaking to the beautiful imperfections of all human beings.

"As a creative team we have approached this subject with authenticity to guide the material in 'Nothing to Lose' to go beyond the usual dialogue and approach when talking about fat. This approach is grounded in the lived experience of the cast and one that has a definite focus on movement vocabulary. We aim to provide a space where audiences are able to investigate the complexity of these performers' lives and the relationships to their bodies, which in turn may inform the audience's ideas around body size and challenge any preconceptions they may have."

Nothing to Lose will premiere as part of the 39th annual Sydney Festival on 21-25 January 2015 at Carriageworks followed by a season in Melbourne 11-21 March 2015 at Malthouse Theatre.

  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Kate Blackmore
    Photo by Kate Blackmore
  • Photo by Kate Blackmore
    Photo by Kate Blackmore
  • Photo by Kate Blackmore
    Photo by Kate Blackmore
  • Photo by Kate Blackmore
    Photo by Kate Blackmore
  • Photo by Kate Blackmore
    Photo by Kate Blackmore
  • Photo by Kate Blackmore
    Photo by Kate Blackmore
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows
  • Photo by Toby Burrows
    Photo by Toby Burrows

Correction: An earlier edition of this article identified Kelli Jean Drinkwater as the photographer of the images above. They were in fact photographed by Toby Burrows and Kate Blackmore. Drinkwater is the Artistic Associate on the Nothing to Lose dance theatre project. We regret the error.

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