January 20, 2011

Family Returning Blows

photos: marco carloni

On January 10, I performed "Family Returning Blows," a meditation on personal and public violence at Jerome Zodo Contemporary, a commercial gallery in Milan, in "F classmate," an international female performance art series curated by Geraldine Zodo.

I couldn't see the audience during the performance, because I was either inside a tent or my face was covered by my scroll. Afterwards, a few people told me they were affected by the powerful emotions represented in it. "In Italy we deal with violence by eating," said a man who was grabbing a piece of pizza on a passing tray. No one else directly referenced the content of the piece.

From Barbie Badeau in Newsweek, November 15, 2010:
"An appalling portrait of Berlusconi’s Italy emerges from the World Economic Forum’s October 2010 Global Gender Gap Report. The WEF looks at such issues as wage parity, labor-force participation, and career-advancement opportunities for women, arguing that closing the gender gap Europe-wide could boost the euro zone’s GDP as much as 13 percent. But as things stand now, Italy would be left leering on the sidelines. In every category but education, Italy lags badly: in labor participation, 87th place worldwide; wage parity, 121st; opportunity for women to take leadership positions, 97th. In the report’s overall ranking, Italy now places 74th in the world for its treatment of women—behind Colombia, Peru, and Vietnam, and seven places lower than it did when Berlusconi returned to office in 2008. “Italy continues to be one of the lowest-ranking countries in the EU and deteriorate[d] further over the last year,” the report says."

The writer goes on to make a connection between these figures and Berlusconi's control of women in the media as sex objects. Later on, she addresses domestic violence:

"The Berlusconi government has focused its women’s-rights efforts primarily on the country’s rising reports of domestic violence. But even there Berlusconi seems to miss the point: last year he apologized for not being able to combat growing rape numbers by explaining, “We don’t have enough soldiers to stop rape because our women are so beautiful.”"

A few days later I encountered a woman who had been at the performance. She had been reading Matnashunch and said that it helped her to understand some of the Armenian historical and cultural references I was making. She's from Greece and new to the city; she told me she's going to do a performance in the F classmate series about women in Milan performing everyday tasks, and I wish I could come to view her observations, to have a dialogue.

I was just talking to a friend today who mourns our current age for the way people are ill-equipped to speak in public about difficult things. I too feel shy, the reason for my concealing props. I sat in the tent and broadcast images from my computer: photos, images from Facebook, and YouTube videos that bring me violent news from near and far. Technology concurrently brings intimacy and sterility, which does not always transfer to connectivity in the global world.

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