Hyper Local Super Now
I recently made a new piece, SideShow. It’s inspired by my memory of a photo of REM’s Michael Stipe. In my memory he has his pants down around his ankles, ass out, hitchhiking, looking back at us, the viewer. I know the implication is that his cock is also out, facing his potential rides. But that didn’t register in my mind in the 90’s. What did register is how men can do things women can’t. The idea of a woman with her pants cheekily around her ankles – ass exposed – felt…what? Dangerous, transgressive, empowering?
I decided to find out.
I performed SideShow in Finland. “An instant classic,” someone said. “It should be in galleries.”
Then I got to Marrakech in Morocco.
I performed SideShow for a women-only audience.
It’s hard to describe how impossible pulling down one’s pants in front of men in this country would be.
While it isn’t nothing, nudity in contemporary performance is expected and respected in a western context. Pulling one’s pants down is totally okay to do on the streets of New York City most nights, and in art contexts in most ‘western’ cities. Most of the time when I take my clothes off onstage, there is this tantalizing moment where I can feel the audience silently gasp and I feel totally exposed and hope everything is in place. Then I sink into the deliciousness of it, the freedom and power. Eventually it isn’t a big deal. In Mexico I said, “Leave the lights down long enough for me to pull my costume back on before I bow.” but in the moment, I decided to bow nude.
In Morocco, if I had performed this piece for men and women I would not have been safe afterwards. Just existing as a white woman with blonde hair wearing a hat, sunglasses and a scarf on the streets of Marrakech is an ordeal. There is a constant hassle. Some of it is just the usual invitation to look into the shops, invariably followed by “Do you need a husband?” That’s on a good day. Keep reading here