EMBODIED REFLECTIONS ON A PERFORMANCE (2016)
I stand in the middle of the space and place my long, heavy hair in front of my face. The head is leaning forward. I breathe deeply and soundly. My arms hang on the sides, knees straight and feet grounding me. My arms feel cold in this sleeveless shirt. The pain on my face has calmed down, it's there but it's bearable. Am I nervous? I can't tell. I am here, now, feeling the empty space around me as if it would need to suck me into it. It is icy outside, and here the air stands still. When did I decided to do this?
The cameras go on, I have my gaze fixed to my feet and I realise they are completely parallel to each other. My ankles look slimmer, but I feel sturdy. I want to this. I need to do this well. This is a ritual, a ritual to perform my pain. To give it an action. To give it a place outside of myself. I get goosebumps. I close my eyes to sense this moment, to touch my will. I breath and say: I am ready.
Elise starts playing the violin, or rather some strings that sound dramatic. I open my eyes. My hair is immobile like being in a vacuum. No space, no time. She is not playing a melody but slightly touching or hitting the strings. I look at the worn metal scissors placed in front of me, on the short lather. I take them with my right hand. I open the scissors and with the left hand I grab a lock of hair. I look at the ends of my dark, thick and dense hair and I cut them out. I open my left hand and let them fall, slowly. Petra is recording, moving around me and following the hair falling. I see her feet and feel the air moving around me. She is very silent while she moves.
Elise's playing has stopped. I move my hands to the next lock and perform the same action. And again. And again. Elise's playing starts again and gets much more brutal, aggressive. Perhaps she feels provoked by my action. And I cut longer and longer locks. I feel their thickness while cutting them. I can hear the sound of each hair when cutting it. I feel I am in a slow-motion action. My hearing and my touch feel enlarged, like they have taken over this experience and I live it though them. Then I throw my hands to the sides, I am tired, this is exhausting. Elise stops playing. I breath heavily, my feet are motionless, my gaze doesn't reach further than my feet and my hair. My head is hanging, and I realise my back is half arched as well. My armpits are a bit sweaty, and I feel a cold drop running through my back and my hip. I wonder if someone else can see the drop. Does it show through the clothes? I close my eyes and I hear Rimma sighting deeply. I feel cold. The pain on my face is throbbing.
Elise starts hitting the strings again while moving in the room. Vigorously, I continue cutting my hair, now much faster. It becomes just an action, as if my hands would be disassembled from myself. I cut and cut and throw my hair all around me, I want to get rid of it. I feel heavier and heavier, and I have to stop when Elise's playing gets unbearable. I kneel down and place my hands on the cement floor. Uncaring. Rimma, Petra and Elise come to me. We hug.
I don't feel lighter. I was expecting a lightness after the performance. I wanted to feel happy, relieved, accompanied… But nothing has happened. The pain is here. I am here as I was before. The ritual didn't work. Should I have shaved my head? Should I have ripped my intestines? Made a whole on my jaw? Gone to the highest cliff and jump? Nothing has changed. All remains the same. Just a lot of hair on the floor, making patterns, silhouettes of non-existing objects. Placing my dreams of liberation on the ground, like telling me there is nothing to be done.
This is what I am now, and no-matter how much hair I cut, how much I cry, how many words I mute, how loud I shout, there is nothing that can help. This is me. My knees hurt. Petra's, Elise's and Rimma's weight is pressing my knees and they hurt. But they are here with me. It is good to have company. It is beautiful to feel loved. I am lucky. I feel like I could die now. After this. No goodbyes needed, just a silent disappearance.
Petra stands up and starts taking pictures of the messy floor.
Elise helps me to stand up, and we start talking. At the same time Rimma is trying to pick up the hair and we help her. It feels like we would like to forget about what has just happened.