Contagion by Andros Zins-Browne
March 25, 2021
Choreographers, Andros Zins-Browne and Kennis Hawkins were commissioned to present a new live work at Danspace Project, January, 2021. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this performance was sadly cancelled. In lieu of a live performance this winter season, Zins-Browne offers a three part series to the Danspace Project Online Journal this spring: “Intimacy,” “Contagion,” and “Survival.” All three pieces are provided as texts and audio recorded readings, written and performed by Zins-Browne.
Read or listen to part II of the series, “Contagion,” below.
A t t a c h m e n t
Reverse, for a moment, the idea that infection is something which travels, which necessarily traverses.
Imagine instead that infection is a place, always there, right where it was.
If we say this place holds a border
and it’s us rather, who pass through it.
P e n e t r a t i o n
But what’s a territory then?
My Great-Grandmother would say,
Some places you just don’t go.
Some places, where gravity is concrete, threat is a neighborhood, common as a cold, invisible as a sneeze, animated, comic too. Where a piano drops, leaving the outline of a body on a sidewalk. That’s a territory. What was a body, now is a fact.
A territory is the absence where facts happen.
I tried to tell my Great-Grandmother that Man had flown out of the planet, into outer-space and landed on the moon. She slapped me so hard back on my ass,
‘boy, don’t ever go talking about no white man landing on God’s Great Moon.’
Some places you just don’t go.
R e p l i c a t i o n
Could be my own genealogy –– a few Jews who’d escaped from Poland,
sold their teeth for a ticket and the chance to meet some Africans.
Africans who, just sold off the boat,
(even though they’d been here (wherever here was) several hundred years)
didn’t have much to lose anyway.
All boasting to each other about strong work ethics and their immunity to sea sickness,
having arrived against their wills in the name of survival, or the threat of its alternative.
in the arbitrariness of place and the embodiment of placelessness.
And the resulting miscegenation, mine, overidentified
bearing two passports with five names,
hyphenated rearranged syncopated disjuncted and mispronounced
by border officials the world over
like a hue that’s difficult to mix.
And here, this is the pit of snakes, over here this is the pit of fire, and here this is homebase, its borders run from fire hydrant to brown spot in the grass, which Ms. Herbst will teach us in third period is a fungal infection, that we’ll take turns watering and continue to pee on afterschool.
The demarcations’ demarcations they go like this: Now you’re out, now you’re in, now you’re safe, now you’re dead, now you’re someone with another name, a different body, a switched code: loosen up your ass, kiss three times on the cheek, lower your eyes, roll your Rs, now you’re no one at all.
My ancestors taught me, they didn’t have to say a word.
My ancestors taught me, but I may have pretended not to hear them though.
To pass, dematerialize. Be no one, so you can become who they need you to be.
Acceptance, set to the rhythm of:
stamp, watermark, imprint, smile, good day
marking the beat you’ll reproduce to, becoming many,
whistle with while you call this brown patch of grass your home.
I may never have reproduced. Not by choice.
And maybe I’ll call this the last stop on the line
But in the meantime, I’d like to close my eyes and sing it differently:
Enjoy spreading out, for each moment a life cycle of expenditure –– good times, good company, nothing too sticky, nothing owned, nothing lost. Everything metabolized.
A s s e m b l y
This border stands at the edge of life. It doesn’t move or make a sound. It doesn’t have any taste or smell. Doesn’t grow, but can reproduce.
There are many borders like this. They never end but might expire. They never run out of space, but might run out of time.
And everyday we cross them.
If we’re lucky, we return at night, only a little more dead.
Everyday though, we try to pass through.
Traffickers and smugglers, Day Workers! The bats.
Day workers! The chimpanzees.
The mosquitoes, the civets and the pangolins. Day workers!
Crossing into a no-man’s land
Belonging to a species that might one day become.
Everyday, we smuggle back and forth.
back and forth.
Carrying unknown categories
trying and failing and failing again
To form ourselves into an ever more resistant body
A body owning class, genus, names we can’t even pronounce
A body that can transform the blood of others
like the mosquito
drink it up like the bat
laugh while spitting it out like the chimpanzee.
We smuggle ourselves
over that border everyday
leaving traces, clumsily
dropping notes, tripping over genes, spilling and stumbling through articulations.
all over the place, then gathering up what we can
Hurrying ourselves back before anyone notices.
R e l e a s e
Within reach one day might be:
The free flow of promiscuous selves and goods, storied with mutations
assemblies of wet machines cannibalizing each other, hybrid names who shit where they sleep.
Animal on an animal on an animal, an orgy of phenotypes, together, a living pile of mess
bodies, non-bodies, proto- and antibodies inter-mixing
A mosh pit of openings, colliding, autonomically
burrowing, tunneling, penetrating, expelling and at it again.
But sometimes the limit of what we can’t become, multiplies.
Sometimes the end of the line insists on making more and more.
The incompatibilities reproduce.
I l l n e s s
Against this force (some call it chaos) we divide.
Neat files, evenly spaced.
a knot of boundaries extending further than their territory, impossible to untie.
You, her, I, it, that, this, not you, not her, not I, not it, not this. All convulsing.
Yeah, we divide with ease.