Z U M A R I
[female body in transformation]
domestic performance in Volos, 2015
Concept/performance/costume design: Eleni Danesi
Camera: Eftichis Efthimiou
Video Editing: Eleni Danesi
A video performance that captures the current state of a female body by bringing the inside out. This performance was the result of a multilayered-research in progress on the notion of pleasure and the perception of one's self as female.
The body, as a palimpsest of memories, readings, empathetic glimpses of connectivity on female identity, projects the inner state and confusion and manifests its existential state by documenting a domestic performance of symbolic psycho-activity.
After diving into my psycho-imagery, I collected a number of materials and actions that I would use to improvise while being documented/filmed in a "dogma 95" way. Nothing was/should be clearly planned, yet the aim was clear: to bring out new images that link to my idea of myself as a female figure and the identity that I create for myself at any given moment, driven by the empathy I carry for women who have undertaken clitoridectomy.
For a while, I was obsessed with these incidents, and I found myself trying to understand what would be the perception of the woman about herself after such an operation. In the beginning, I thought that my interest is academic but soon I realized that it's not for no reason that we are attracted by what catches us. I had no such experience myself so it was quite a surprise why I was so empathetic to those women. I realized that I thought that these women must have lost their connection to their femininity. Then I discovered that that was just my personal state. I had lost my connection to my female side, to myself as a body of creation, to the core of myself.
4 years after the filming/editing of this project, I finally came to the point to reflect on it and bring out a part of my reality as I understand it now, linking that past self, who didn't understand to the present one that feels a change.
This piece represents for me the process of accepting our bodies with all the parts that have been under any kind of damage, small or big. I transformed my body from a figure of physical admiration that kept me imprisoned to its image, to a grotesque figure that should be loved first by me. The dough appeared to be a fundamental material that represents the birth or the construction of a basic form. It is a basic form of nutrition that our grand-grandmothers molded with their rough/strong hands and made bread for their family. That's what the women in my family did and I had bread from their own hands.
The act of pilling the dough off of my skin links to the novel Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Patrick Süskind, representing the action of collecting the essence of one's body that evaporates through the skin and the personal odor. This scene totally resonated with my image on how we bring out our essence to the world, how we collect parts of us to exchange or give to others. It's the most authentic nature of me that I want to collect and share with the other/s, the one/s in relation with.
Stitching "my flesh" together was a representation of the violent act of clitoridectomy, that shuts the vagina down, is if they want to strangle its power/strength and wisdom.
Working with the pieces of the dough, in a metaphorical way, I was trying to collect my parts together and recovering my fragmented body to regain my strength.