I smell discomfort in the sour sweat of my neighbor
No deodorant smell is manly enough to cover it up.
He stares into the stage and twitches to the twitch,
to the non-precise, non-standardised movements
of dis- or rather over-abled bodies.
What does it feel like to look at performers who function differently,
who let us into their private lives,
make us doubt our sweet status quo?
Three cameras circulate on the stage in the hands of differently abled bodies, like guns they occasionally point in our direction. "Ôss" by Marlene Monteiro Freitas and Dançando com a Diferença, image by Julio Silva Castro. Seen at SAAL Biennaal 2023.
My sweat smells, too.
I cannot get my eyes off the tits,
the remains of stitches from a gender confirming surgery.
Do I long for my boobs to be gone, too,
or am I scrutinizing him for falling into a taboo?
An energetic body hops on stage.
They have no legs.
The excess skin flickers in the stage light.
So pretty, but uncomfortable, too.
We pulled into the messiness of romance-infused, testosterone-filled bedrooms through the eye of the camera. In our presence the act of masculinity is set under question. “Seek Bromance” by Samira Elagoz, 2021, screenshot of the film. Seen at Cinema Sõprus as part of the SAAL Biennaal 2023.
We are taken behind the curtains.
To places where our normal bodies cannot reach,
and if we could…
would we even dare to enter?
It takes courage to witness
vulvas in the discovery of masculinity,
trembling voices hauling love songs.
These bodies are not in performance for us.
There is an act of care on stage. Their own story is at stake.
Here in the movie hall we are drained of our power,
robbed of our flimsy stability.
Softly exposed to the sidelines,
gently tending to the tenderness on stage,
collectively processing our own pains, too.
This self-portrait of Nan Goldin after an act of domestic violence gives a reminder that the use of documentary film and art as a tool of talking about intimate and sidelined stories stretches longer than the current trends in performance. “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency” by Nan Goldin, 1985. Discovered via Laura Poitras documentary “All The Beauty And The Bloodshed”, 2022.
Perhaps you and I both long for that thin image of normality,
for our bodies to belong,
to be part of the social-core,
to follow a script of some sort?
Silentmiaow, who was part of the early stages of the autism rights movement, lets us into their way of using language that does not conform to the general understanding of communication. “In My Language” by Mel Baggs aka silentmiaow, 2007. Video discovered via the workshop by Teresa Vittucci and Colin Self at SAAL Biennaal 2023. Accessible at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnylM1hI2jc
But instead the whole idea of a scripted life is set under question.
I drop tears in the presence of non-standardised lives,
listen to bodies that follow their own beat.
Curtains wide open, trouble fades into beauty.
I let unknown worlds enter into my “whole” body.
Written by an artist and a film-maker Mia Tamme during the SAAL Biennaal 2023 on the invitation of Heneliis Notton. Mia touches the works of Samira Elagoz’s “Seek Bromance”, Marlene Monteiro Freitas / Dançando com a Diferença "Ôss" and relates them to Mel Baggs aka silentmiaow video “In My Language” and Nan Goldin’s “The Ballad of Sexual Dependency”. Cover image Exquisite Corpse by Mia Tamme, Vaim Sarv, Eva Mahhov.