Planking: An Art Form In Its Own Right

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Have you ever had the urge to lie face down across a staircase?_x000D_
A rooftop? Perhaps across the aisle of a grocery store? Suppress these_x000D_
desires no longer because now is the time to join the growing trend of planking. Plankers across the world are expressing themselves through this new_x000D_
and innovative art form.

Planking involves holding your arms in closely to your sides, pointing your fingers and toes, and keeping your body as flat and stiff as possible. The more unsuitable the location you_x000D_
choose to lie across, the more impressive your plank. A daring subset of_x000D_
plankers prefer to hold themselves suspended, only contacting a surface with_x000D_
their hands and feet.

Comedian Tom_x000D_
Green claims to have originated the practice in the mid ’90s, although Christian_x000D_
Langdon and Gary Clarkson, creators of the planking website thelyingdowngame.net, also assert that they were the_x000D_
first. Also known as “The Lying Down Game,” “Extreme_x000D_
Lying Down,” and “Facedowns,” planking is making its way across the globe._x000D_
Noteworthy planks include a police car plank in Australia and Hugh Hefner’s_x000D_
plank on a table (critics of this unremarkable location should take into_x000D_
account his age).  

Planking.me,_x000D_
one of the premiere planking websites, organizes photographs of planks by state_x000D_
and country and classifies them into a range of categories including “dangerous” and “illegal.” On the darker side of planking, two men from Melbourne, Australia were fined for planking on the tines of a forklift and on the shed of a roof at_x000D_
their workplace in the first-ever planking prosecution. This past spring, plankers everywhere mourned the death of 20-year-old Acton Beale who,_x000D_
according to police reports, fell while planking from a seventh-floor balcony_x000D_
in Brisbane, Australia.

No one can deny_x000D_
the deep significance planking holds in society today—especially in Australia—but the real question is how this practice is affecting the 5Cs. Are there plankers here among us? If so, what_x000D_
can we learn from them? I surveyed several students to find the answers to_x000D_
these essential questions.

“The beauty of_x000D_
planking is that it puts you in touch with a greater community,” Ben Kersten PO ’15 said. “Planking just used to be something I’d do on my own,_x000D_
whenever I felt inspired, but when I found out that I wasn’t alone, that really_x000D_
took my planking to a whole new level.” Kersten, an aspiring art history major,_x000D_
sees a clear relationship between his studies and his planking experiences. “What is art, except a human modification of something else?” he reasons. “When_x000D_
I’m hiking in the woods and I climb up to plank on a rock overlooking a_x000D_
beautiful view, I guess I’m just trying to tell the universe ‘Hey, I’m here!'” Ben’s dream plank would be a simple but meaningful one–to_x000D_
plank on a pedestal at the Pompidou museum in Paris. (In France his plank would be called “à plat ventre.”)

Like any_x000D_
revolutionary art form, planking has its critics. Jordan Greene PO ’15 of Greenwich, Connecticut, dismisses planking as “what Americans do_x000D_
to avoid exercising.” When asked to describe planking in one word, the majority_x000D_
of those questioned picked “stupid.” But plankers in the Claremont community_x000D_
should not be discouraged by such assessments. Here at the 5Cs, we_x000D_
are all in our planking primes—in both the physical and spiritual sense. A_x000D_
liberal arts education is about creativity and self-expression; about challenging ourselves and forging a stronger community. 

I am happy to report that Kersten is far from alone in his endeavors. Three_x000D_
plankers were spotted bridging the gap across two railings along the ramp_x000D_
leading up to Big Bridges. Though they were admittedly on their way to Pub,_x000D_
their planks were no less aesthetic or meaningful than Kersten’s—three young men,_x000D_
setting out for the evening’s adventure, faces downward, backs to the stars.

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