On The Nature of Being Held

Katrina Sorrentino

2019 - Ongoing

United States; France; Costa Rica

What does it mean to contain and be contained or to exist in the absence of a container? In “On The Nature of Being Held” I am looking at holding everywhere, especially as it pertains to intimacy outside of a romantic partnership.

An inquiry into holding:

When we’re born we leave the safety of our mother’s bodies for the holding of hands. Doctors, nurses, midwives grab us by the head, the back, the ankles. We’re wrapped in cloth and then held by our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, surrogates, fosters, strangers - for the first time.

Then cribs hold us. Socks. Hats atop our heads. Strollers. In turn we hold onto pinky fingers, ring fingers and begin to understand the outlines of ourselves in contrast to another.

Later we learn that the ground can hold us. We walk its surface. Carpet, grass, linoleum, tile, concrete.

We slowly begin to trust how other things hold us. Tricycles, bicycles support our seat as the sidewalk carries us from beneath. The helmet holds our head tight.

It becomes exciting to begin to test the limits of holding everywhere. A pane of glass can only hold a certain amount of you until it breaks and the glass and your skin interact. But then your family holds you, concerned about the limits of holding that you discovered.

Escalators. Elevators. Gondolas. Airplanes. Each new vessel requires another inquiry. More trust. Suspension of disbelief as your body explores its contours.

As we reach adolescence our physical bodies are not only held by our families but by crushes, lovers, sometimes unsolicited and uninvited. We receive feedback from how the holding of another makes us feel and what trust looks like from that container.

French kiss, cuddle, lap dance, hands through jeans holding onto isolated parts of the body now. And we recalibrate to notice how holding feels like from this perspective.

We adjust. We open up. We close down.

Simultaneously institutions hold us. They begin to support some of us and let others of us down. They privilege, they contain, they accelerate and they detain - all the while holding our bodies within their walls.

- Excerpt from project statement

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