Departures and Arrivals

DETAIL

CO-PRODUCTIONS

I’m a very understanding woman
Apetrea, Amanda
MDT

I'm a Very Understanding Woman is a show by Amanda Apetrea (S) and Mica Sigourney (US) To understand is sometimes the most difficult thing a woman can do and yet this is something that has been asked of us for centuries. From Adam and Eve to the old greeks to the witch trials to sexual abuse to voting rights to less salary for the same job to taking care of the kids to being divine to wearing a push up bra to crying instead of making a point to hiding from a man who wants to kill us to having soft features and to being subordinate. Yes, we are understanding but that ends now. We start again by both understanding and misunderstanding, leaving behind a heteronormative misogynistic framework and exposing instead queer realities. "I’m a very understanding Woman" will be annoying and demanding just because of what she understands. It will be about death and birth, it will be about love and fear, about joy and despair. I’m a Very Understanding Woman is a dark comedy, sourced from presentations of womanhood in contemporary popular culture, 1970’s slasher films and comedy duos of american vaudeville. It dreams of a better world seen through deep emotional, genuine, sometimes satirical, queer-trans-utopian-feminist glasses. "I’m a very understanding Woman" will express the agony of years and years of understanding that this gender has had to put up with as well as the secret knowledges of misunderstanding.

THE PERFORMANCE

Imagine a female drag queen both emboldened and disempowered by the femininity she dresses in. She balances on impossibly high heels which accentuate her femininity yet make it hard for her to move. She tells a rape joke, she takes off her clothes in slow motion crying the whole time. Imagine a body betraying the binary of gender visually expressing a “masculine” form and a “feminine” movement, as it recreates the climactic scene from Richard King’s horror movie Carrie, pig blood poured all over it, fake telekinesis flying objects around the stage. Imagine a drag queen run over by a car carrying a copy of Deluze, trying to sing a love song to her female bodied lover. Imagine bodies that move gracefully through representations of womanhood and imagine those bodies being both male and female. Can we simultaneously imagine that there is no borders no limits and no rules?

In "I’m a very understanding Woman", Apetrea and Sigourney are interested in expressions from Vaudevillian Slapstick, stand up comedy and 1970’s Horror films. These genres offer explicitly gendered roles that the artists can react against, invoke and play with. The gaze of the camera from films such as Carrie, A nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, The Exorcist, Rosemary’s baby etc is often the male gaze. It posits an understood and implied power dynamic between viewer and subject. Restaging or exploring scenes from this genre makes the performers’ bodies the bodies of women, and the gaze of the audience into the Male Gaze. The artists have chosen stand up comedy and Vaudevillian spectacle as areas of research because comedy can provide an easy way into a performance that may address deeper issues, comedy and camp allow for nuance and complication. These source materials are also concerned with entertainment directly, a tactic the artists want to explore while presenting complex and challenging content.

"I'm a Very Understanding Woman" is a duet between Apetrea and Sigourney. As the objects and subjects in their own work, they use their bodies/emotions/identities as site and source of performative material. Shared interest of gender (exaggerated, actual and fictional), and fakeness is the first departure point of their investigation. Both have expertise (academically and artistically) in the performance of gender, thusly it’s an obvious starting point for their work.

In April/May 2014 while working in residence at Konstnärsnämnden building the workshop FAKE AND MAKE Apetrea and Sigourney playfully engaged with the practices they were researching and developing.

Pop-cultural vernacular and body based practices combine in a performance that bounces between high art and low culture, depth and spectacle, fake and real. The two bodies in space describe a reality with medium as its message, the content is the container, not separate from it, containing it or carrying it. The anti-patriarchal revolutionary moment is generated by a feminine body (or feminizing the body and movement), and that feminized body itself is the anti-patriarichal moment. The frame of the content is in fact the content itself. While gender is a failing system these two performers set themselves on stage as subjugated bodies who move towards liberation. As they dismantle the failing gender binary they use its pieces, building a trajectory toward new performed identities based in the fictions and realities of their bodies. Audre Lorde said “The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House”, Apetrea and Sigourney say, “Oh I didn’t know these were tools I thought they were make up brushes and dildos....oh look here, a new lipstick.”

Co production - MDT in Stockholm and OX and CounterPULSE in San Francisco – with support from The swedish arts council and The City of Stockholm

Set/light design and costume: Daniel Åkerström-Steen 

This project was made possible with support from [DNA] Departures and Arrivals/European commission Culture Program