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Le Temps de Ma Vie

As an art student as the University of South Florida, I had the incredible opportunity this passed June ('06) to study in France for a month. This also meant I had the opportunity to visit Avignon, the home of the infamous Monsieur Lucas Zpira01 and "body hacktivist" practices in which I have been interested for several years. I could write a novel about the entire experience... but of course I'll restrain myself to sharing with you the juicy details of my suicide suspension.

Though the entire ordeal began with pleasant correspondences with Lucas, the process of getting to Avignon was a nightmare. Nearly everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, much of which was simply my own negligence. My appointment was for the 10th. I arranged for a friend, who was staying at Cité Universitaire, to go with me. I waited for a couple of hours for her to show, and she never showed. Later, I found out she had gotten lost on the way to the hostel at which I was staying. Needless to say, I missed my train. I went ahead to the train station to book another ticket, and there discovered that one of my debit cards, the one I normally use, was missing. I had already spent my traveler's cheques and had little cash on me. The only other form of payment I had was a backup debit card that I had never used, and, like an idiot, had forgotten the PIN. I could still use the card as credit, but Lucas doesn't take plastic and my bank refused to cooperate with my emergency. In the end I had to borrow the cash!!

So I rescheduled the appointment for the 29th, the last day I was to be in France. I sent Lucas an email a couple of days before the suspension, and then finally, the day arrived. Unfortunately, the server at my residence was having problems a couple of days before I sent the email. It must still have had some bugs, because Lucas never got the email. I arrived in Avignon only to find that he had assumed I wasn't going to show and booked another appointment! I was crushed. I had undergone a long fasting period, spent exorbitant amounts of money on train tickets, and endured more stress than any individual should have to encounter on a vacation only to have my plans shot down yet again, and this time I couldn't rebook the appointment because I was leaving the next day!(So, If you ever decide you'd like to do something with Lucas, make SURE by hell or high water that you confirm with him the day before!)

Fortunately, Lucas and Satomi were very understanding and helpful, and they ensured that it all wasn't for nothing. They contacted a couple of friends of theirs; Sed and his friend, I believe her name was Rachel, and arranged for me to do the suspension with them instead.

I was tempted to call it quits, nonetheless. I was on nerve's end and was afraid that after everything that had happened, it wasn't meant to be. But I'm a bullheaded cunt that has wanted to do a suspension for five years, and I had come all that way, so I decided to persevere. I'm so glad I did, because from then on it was smooth sailing. I explored the city for a time while I waited for Sed and Rachel to arrive. Avignon is incredibly beautiful, and so very different from Paris. It's a charming, nostalgic, Mediterranean city nestled by the Rhône. It's an urban environment, but has none of the bustle of Paris (nor the pollution). By just wandering, I found myself calming down and reaching a more reflective state. I found a shadowy green spot on a hill by the Palais des Papes overlooking the river, and meditated for a while before returning to the Weird Faktory.

Sed and Rachel turned out to be two of the sweetest, loveliest, and most down to earth people I've met in a while. I'm so glad I had the pleasure of their company during this deeply personal and sentinel experience. We made arrangements, and I got comfortable. I sat in a room alone for a while to regulate my breathing with some pranayama and to calm and focus my mind. For all my previous preparation, i found it quite difficult to keep my mind from racing and heart from thumping. I brought myself as much as I could into a meditative state and tell Sed I'm ready. They turn on some Dead Can Dance, and I take my top off and lie on the chair with the embossed artkor logo. He then cleansed my back and marked me up.
We established a breathing rhythm to prepare me for the needles; one, two, breathe in deeply, three, exhale as the needle goes through.

Then, at last, came the needles; four across my shoulder blades. Honestly, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I've had menstrual cramps that hurt worse! What really hurt the most were the damned clamps. The sensation was less of a sharp pain like one would expect and more of a strong pinch; a blunt pain. Perhaps it was because my skin, as Sed and Rachel remarked, was rather tough. They probably had to tug and pinch the skin to get the needle through, which probably desensitized the area a bit.

What I enjoyed the most was the great rush of relief after each needle passed through, and the strangely erotic and delicious sensation of hot blood streaming down my flesh. I bled quite a lot, too! I had a beautiful streak of crimson over my shoulder, and several more down my back. Sed cleaned me up a little and i walked around to oxygenate the rest of my body and to liven up my mind. My back was sore. I tried to imagine the sensation of my weight on those tiny tender flaps of skin, and I get nervous again so I brought my mind back to the ritual. I imagined myself sprouting wings; I became Innana in the face of Ereshkigal about to be hung on a meat hook, naked and vulnerable: a maiden who blossoms into a mother goddess.

Sed and Rachel attached me to the rigs and slowly, Sed raises the ropes. From here, my memory becomes a little fuzzy; I strive to recall the exact sensations like one tries to recall a dream. I walked forward a little to stretch the skin, and the farther I go, the more shocking the sensation: that's literally what the sensation was: shock, like having freezing water thrown upon my body.. Slowly, higher.. my body, involuntarily, fought to stay on the ground. The rope raised, and the idea of all that weight, that intensive pain, compelled me to stretch to terra firma until I was on the tips of my toes. Terror gripped me. I asked Rachel to hold my hands. Mildly I felt like a child, afraid of the pain, mistrusting the strenth of my skin. I looked into her eyes, and then into Seds. There in their smiling eyes I found myself – beautiful, liberated, and powerful. I believe they saw my wings, slowly emerging from the cocoon. So I shook away the remains of fear, let go of Rachel's hands, and ask Sed to raise me higher still. "Fly, Butterfly", Sed says to me. The immense pain subsides slightly. What i expected was the sharp sensation of 115 pounds of meat pulling four small elastic strips of skin against metal hooks. But what I felt was more of an intense, abstract ache. My shoulder blades and lower back hurt just as much if not slightly more than the wounds themselves. I moved my legs around and tried to spin and swing back and forth. Spinning was easy, but I found it difficult to rock because I couldn't move my arms, and my body felt rigid. I felt like a cat being grabbed by the scruff of the neck. I stretched my legs as if to dance, and indeed, I was dancing.

I experienced something akin to weightlessness, but it was very abstract... it wasn't the same sensation as being immersed in water or a lack of gravity, but more of a defiance of gravity. I could feel gravity tugging at me, fighting with my flesh to bring me back to earth. But I felt as if I were conquering such a force in a similar way of being stuck in that initial moment of take off during plane flights when you've just lifted off the runway but you can feel yourself ascending, breaking away from earth's embrace. It's a weird analogy, I know, but that's the only thing I can liken it to.

Moving actually made the pain more tolerable. When I just let myself hang, my body became tired, rigid, heavy, and strained. But when I pushed it and moved, the wounds became more oxygenated and the back and shoulders weren't as sore (not to mention it triggered the release of adrenaline and such).

Finally, after about 20 minutes or so, my body told me I'd had enough and I asked Sed to bring me down. He then bandaged me up and even gave me the flesh-filled needles used to pierce me as a little souvenir.

We parted ways with hugs and bisous and I, sore and exhilarated, headed to the station. With a silent promise to return to Avignon for more experiences, next time perhaps with the man who introduced me to it all, I hopped on a train back to Paris, bearing the marks of transcendence.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 25 Dec. 2006
in Ritual

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Artist: Sed
Studio: Weird+Faktory
Location: Avignon%2C+France

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