artist / participant
In the video Physical Status Report the artist Luna Scales lay naked, striking a pose that recalls the typical art-historical “nude model.” Beneath the image a text appears. It comes from a Danish state disability organization and regards the artist’s physical condition. Scales was born with a muscular disease. The report surveys her appearance and capabilities. Her body is described and assessed.
“The nude” is a body represented as an object that exists for the spectator’s needs and desires, to be examined and appraised. Scales uses this classical category to pose questions about the body, capacity and disability as a political issue. Who gets appraised, why and how? Here the body is inspected, measured and classified, its value regulated against normative appearance and the capacity to labour conventionally.
Scales says: “The text describes my physical ability—or lack thereof. It caters to the Danish authorities and is used when I’m applying for specific additional expenses, or general financial support for people who are born with permanently reduced functional capacity. It became urgent for me do deal with the report, since I’ve been refusing to read it in its full length until 2017, four years after it was written. The need to exhibit the text and depict my body was primarily about taking myself out of the text, even though it describes my body and instead be able to read the text for what it is—a description of a non-abled body that is seen in the light of a 'normal' well-functioning body and is thereby an alienated.
The process of taking myself out of the text began with having it translated from Danish to English, it created a distance that made it easier to read when it wasn't my mother tongue. I removed my own name from the text, so I instead became 'she,' and also the name of my diagnosis. In the beginning I was a bit insecure if I was 'allowed' to remove anything from the original text but doing that made me realized how the text is more about the language and the gaze that is created on the non-abled body, rather than my own body. It was a bigger challenge for me to display the text rather than my naked body.
The female nude model and the non-abled body may traditionally seem like each other's aesthetic contradictions but acting as the images of the nude model and telling a story of a 'weak' body described in the text, I see a lot of similarities and commonness in the consideration of these two, in the fact that they are both subjected to strong objectification. I wish to evoke a recital and gaze at the traditional nude posing female figure, and then to change and merge that view into a staring at the dis-abled body, as the text unfolds in the video.” Bonniers Konsthall