Pyrography on horse hide, 52 x 108 inches, 2014

Sixty-Two distinct racehorse names listed on the pedigree of thoroughbred progeny of Dancer's Image, controversial winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby.

Pedigree, Pyrography on horse hide, 52 x 108 inches, 2014
Pedigree, Pyrography on horse hide, 52 x 108 inches, 2014 - detail
Pedigree, Pyrography on horse hide, 52 x 108 inches, 2014 - detail
Dancer's Image, progeny chart, Pedigree Thoroughbred Database,
Dancer's Image is the name of a once longshot thoroughbred racehorse took who first place in the Kentucky Derby of 1968, and was later disqualified amidst much controversy. The decision was rendered based on claims the horse tested positive for a banned substance. The dubious origin of this Butazolidin is thought to be part of a greater vengeful conspiracy - retribution towards the horse's owner. Dancer's Image was owned by Peter Fuller, an outspoken civil rights supporter who drew the ire of many such opponents after having donated the Wood Memorial total purse winnings to Coretta Scott King two days after the assassination of her husband, Martin Luther King. The sworn testimony of the team handlers and doctors claimed that the horse race had been sabotaged by civil rights dissidents who were still angry that Fuller had "disgraced" the Wood Memorial prize by handing it off. Fuller had been threatened regularly since the event, and it is largely believed that Dancer's Image was doped by someone who was enacting revenge in the name of segregation. This was the Kentucky Derby's only disqualification in its entire 140 year history.
Dancer's Image is much more than a noble example of great racing progeny. Dancers Image is a quiet pariah who's rich storied history, and highly sought, well commodified lineage help develop a conceptual lens through which to frame and present a larger issue: of how such pedigree and lineage could be likened to a coalescence of discrimination around biopolitical stigma, blood as a measure for status, and HIV / AIDS struggle.
The prestigious Kentucky Derby is held annually during the first week of May.
On the same day of the race:
While studying blood cultures in May 1968, Torbjorn Caspersson developed a method of injecting a friendly nontoxic agent into a cell that would show light and dark lateral bands along the length of the chromosomes when introduced. This radicalized the research capabilities, and permitted the accurate identification of all types of chromosome combinations. This technique of identification also showed that humans who possess an abnormal number of certain chromosome pairs were susceptible to particular manifestations of disease or impaired development.
Cell reproduction elicits a particular sequence of events which can be charted by the patterns of chromosome classification, and invariably produce a result, or transmission whose outcome can be anticipated through observation of its metaphase. Similarly, when a certain pattern of chromosomic mitosis(division) occurs, the observed presence of certain chromosomes can be used to predict the onset of both physical and mental developmental incongruence and aberration, as well as genetic characteristics which might be considered favourable.
On the same day of the race eight years earlier:
The Denver Convention of 1960,  introduced a breakthrough in human cytogenetics. Cytogenetics is a study of structure, function and behaviour of chromosomes. Chromosomes are loosely defined as the organized structures of DNA and protein found in cells. Moreover, a chromosome is composed of a single strand of coiled DNA which contains the genes, regulatory elements, nucleotide sequences, and proteins which serve to package and control function.
It was during the Denver Convention that specialists in the field of human cytogenetic research developed and adopted an internationally accepted system of classification, and order of chromosomes. The development of such a system advanced the field of genetics and biology exponentially by creating the proverbial roadmap of how genetic material is passed on. This research was further expanded into new realms of previously uncharted (literally) discoveries.
On the same day of the race, fifteen years earlier:
In 1983 During the Second National AIDS Forum at the National Lesbian and Gay Health Conference, the People With AIDS Advisory Committee presented a statement which came to be known as The Denver Principles; affirmatory declarations on basic human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS.

The pyrographic technique is similar to the act of branding which has been commonplace in livestock, and equine handling. Branding also holds a disturbing place in history, particularly in the Southern American states; and most particularly in Kentucky. Uncommonly low demand for labour to fulfill agriculture and production needs within Kentucky created a surplus of enslaved people. As such, the state of Kentucky grew simultaneously as both principal supplier, and pipeline to forced migrations of the slave trade. Metaphorically, this history has branded the social collective conscience with ever-present, psychic scars.
Within the institutional and industrialised process of standardised health care practice, a more subtle view of state ownership and control continues to be excercised through the retention of an ongoing relationship with flesh, bodies, medicalisation, and incarceration.
Back to Top