Parental Guidance :: Body Fluid II

June 3rd 2013

The world ain’t what it used to be. Art can be garbage, garbage can be art, weird is wonderful but wonderful’s just weird, and confrontation is sought after rather than shied away from. Parental Guidance is for all those moments you find yourself wondering what mum would say; calling on the generation that spawned us to help unpick the bizarre and baffling examples of new music, arts and culture… with the occasional, “Well, you’re not wearing that!”


When my mum came down to visit me in Sydney, I’m sure she was expecting some sort of welcome dinner. Instead, all I wanted to do was show her some body fluid…

Uhh… body fluid?!?

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just as I know she was thinking it too (the look of utter fright & disgust contorting her face belied her acceptance).

But I promise it’s not what you think!


Body Fluid II (redux) is an art performance I didn’t know much about. Based on its title though, I was sure that taking my mum there would be a good laugh. She, however was less than pleased.

Despite not-so-subtly questioning my ideas of ‘art’, my confused parent accepted the invitation, and one breezy afternoon away we went.

Walking into the Carriageworks performance space, we were confronted by a comical scene…

Body Fluid

John A. Douglas

A rather portly man waltzed with a large machine, to the tones of some ambient music. Oh yeah, did I mention he was dressed head to toe in a shimmering gold Lycra bodysuit? I could feel my mum’s palm hit her face.

However, after spending a few minutes coming to terms with the absurdity of it all, we were overwhelmed by the true impact of his performance.

The artist, John A. Douglas, was presenting a movement score while undertaking his daily peritoneal dialysis. For those with renal failure, dialysis is their only form of health support other than a kidney transplant.

The ‘body fluid’ in question was nothing as sinister as my mum had imagined…

Instead it referred to the sterilised solution being passed into Douglas’ abdomen through a tube.

Douglas’ dance with his dialysis machine evoked his personal connection with this piece of technology he was forced to love. As the performance changed, he held up a bag of fluid to his chest and cradled it as if he were holding a beloved infant, his head bent, gazing fondly at this little package that was his only route to normality.

What I had envisioned as a silly prank on mother dearest, quickly became something entirely different.

As Douglas moved in silence, my mum and I sat and contemplated, immersed in the isolated world of a man and his bodily dependence. As tubes twitched and fluid dripped, I thought about the fragility of us as humans.

Douglas’ covered face evoked a sense of anonymity. It could be any one of us there, suffering from this medical condition.

Body Fluid was nothing like either one of us had expected. My mum did admit that she still thought it was pretty damn weird (well yes, it was a man in golden Lycra), but that it made her clear her mind of all the trivialities of daily life, and just take time to ponder on the deeper things.

If you’re in need of some sort of emotional awakening, perhaps a thoughtful break from work and studies, or just want to see a man dance in a bodysuit (I know I keep mentioning it, but c’mon… a man in a bodysuit!), make sure you take a stroll down to see Body Fluid.

Oh, and why not bring your parents along, they might like it too. Or not…



WHAT: Body Fluid II (redux) performance

WHERE: Carriageworks – 245 Wilson St, Eveleigh

WHEN: 24 May-16 June, Thurs-Sat, 10am-8pm


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