Transformation Through the Loss of Limbs

Written by Kamani Harris

Limbs carry large meaning within your life, as a piece of you that makes life easier, connects you to the earth, and connects you with other beings. But they can also represent deeper meanings such as negative and positive attachments, parts of who you are, and ones emotional stability.

When watching Gressman’s Limbs, I was forced to consider what my limbs mean to me. As I heard the thuds of each limb dropping, my heart dropped. Soon after, she began to be spun, whipped, and lashed in every direction. This showed that these limbs had much emotional meaning.

Photo taken by Kamani Harris

What in my life represents the legs that hold me up and allow me to face the world? What in my life represents my arms that allow me to reach for my dreams and my future? What in my life would cause me the pain embodied in her writhing movements if they were lost?

After the performance, Gressman tells how the limbs to her represented losing someone close to you, the pain thereafter, and how it changes you, but to me the limbs represented false crutches that are used to hide the true you. The limbs that were ripped off were extra. They made me feel as if they were the parts of us that were given to us by something or someone else such as society, parents, or our environment. An example is a student holding on to the want to be popular in high school, someone banking on get rich schemes to one day have money solve all their problems, or a false dream that we use to keep us afloat but is not really us.

In current day society, we hold onto things that we think others want us to  so we can be accepted. We follow these constructs to limit us from being who we really want to be such as not taking our time to reach our goals, not taking the risks doing something we love for the fear of being judged, and us being afraid of standing tall on our own true feet. Watching Limbs I interpreted it as transforming into your true self, releasing the limbs of limits and expectations put on us by others, and experiencing the pain of judgment, failure, and loss, but ending as who you are supposed to be.

No matter the interpretation, each person in the audience left transformed and in thought of the representation of their limbs and what they mean to them. The question is will they end their  journey standing on their own true feet?

photo by Kamani Harris

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