Suspensions : Another Kind of Bodyhacking
Suspensions are the act of suspending a person in the air through the use of hooks placed in several temporary piercings made immediately before the suspension. The placement and number of the hooks is dependent on the how the person being suspended wants to be positioned above the ground. A few common suspension positions include chest suspension, knee suspension, and superman suspension. In a chest suspension, the hooks are placed through the chest so that the suspendee’s body hangs upright. For a knee suspension, the suspension artist places the hooks in the knee so that the suspendee’s body hangs with the head closest to the ground. In a superman suspension, the suspension artist places the hooks along the posterior side of the body, so the suspendee hangs facing down and parallel to the ground.
A suspension can take place anywhere it is possible to set-up the rigging for the suspension. This portability means that suspensions happen inside or outside, in a room or on a stage or out in the natural world.
There is quite a bit of preparation work before the actual suspension. The rigging has to be prepared and set-up. A88s with any other piercing, the piercing tools, hooks and materials must be cleaned and sanitized. The suspension artist cleans and sanitizes the skin about to be pierced. Once the skin is pierced in the appropriate places, as determined by the suspension artist, the hooks are inserted. There are several different types of hooks that are commonly used, including Gibson Hooks and hooks like look like large fishing hooks. While there are common placements and gauges, the suspension artist decides on gauge, placement and number of hooks based on each person’s individual anatomy. Some positions allow for the suspendee to move while suspended.
Once the suspension is complete and the suspendee is back on the ground, the suspension artist removes the hooks and presses the air from the suspension out of each site on the body. Finally, the suspension artist cleans the wounds and dresses them.
Historically the act of human suspension dates back thousands of years. It has been used by many cultures and religions across the globe. One such example was a ceremony performed by the Mandan (Numakiki), a Native American tribe, known as the Okipa ceremony. First recorded by Edward Catlin, the Okipa Ceremony was about the creation of the earth and lasted four days. As a part of this ceremony, several young men would be suspended by wooden stakes.
In contemporary times, the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu in India practice suspensions as a part of the Chidi Mari festival, a Tamil holiday.
The reasons people choose to suspend themselves from hooks are wide-ranging: from a religious or spiritual act to a rite of passage to a symbol of overcoming fear and adversity to a form of meditation to performance art to something as simple as stress or anxiety relief. There are some who believe that suspensions can induce a state of shock, which, in turn, changes their perception of reality, often leading to euphoric sensations or the feeling of being more connection or clear-headed.
If suspending is something you are interesting in pursuing be sure research carefully to find a group of qualified suspension artists that meet your needs. For more information or to find suspension artists near you, visit the International Suspension Alliance.
Special thanks to Jason Shaw of ihung.