Analogue documentation photos of performance of Man created the word 1999
Man created the word was re-created for VAIN Live Platform, Oxford, 2001
My first live performance Man Created the Word (1999) used masquerade, clothing and ritual to present roles that exceed patriarchal edits of those that women might play.
In what I thought of as a ’ritualized shedding of personae’, I created a ‘tableau vivant’ (living picture) about language and the female Subject. Vibrant but silent the visual language simultaneously performed gendered stereotypes and personae, suggesting that women continually role-play in order to be ‘successful’.
Description: wearing yellow oil skins I gutted 2 mackerel, then peeled off the waterproofs to reveal a man’s pinstriped suit underneath. I read and typed from the bible: ‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him;… and the word, the word was with God’. Then, taking off the suit to reveal a wedding dress, I put on high heels and an apron and crafted a baby out of lard.
This messy, smelly performance intentionally mocks cultures that give ‘lip service’ to women for the role they play in creating life and mothering, whilst patriarchy controls language, hierarchies and power structures that control women’s bodies and experiences. Through visceral visual image, live performance (and smell) I hoped to contravert words and silence language, language that so often silences women and all the people they could be.
Have a look at other performance that explores language.