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HD video, colour, sound, 43 min

The video focuses on the gender, social and representational aspects of grief and self-injurious behavior in their connection to gendered violence and trauma.

It is a personal reflection on the human, philosophical and political value of grief in its bodily, psychic and public dimensions. Similar to Judith Butler, I see grief as a means of political change and of building a community based on the mutual responsibility for the psychic life of others.

The work is based on a research across several disciplines, such as anthropology, sociology, psychiatry and art history. I critically examine self-mutilation as an expression of mourning from the anthropological perspective, spontaneous self-injurious behavior as a psychiatric phenomenon, as well as the representation of pain and of the femininity in art history and popular culture and the use of self-injury in the feminist art of the 1970s.

I aimed to explore the representation of grief as a part of the performance of gender, and, drawing from my own experience of loss and violence and those of other femmes and queers, the ambiguous connection between authenticity and culturally conditioned self-presentation within grieving as a psychic process. In the performance of mourning, the personal and public expressions interblend in such a way that the difference between reality and representation becomes irrelevant.

The video is based on several characteristic self-aggressive gestures of mourning, which occur in different cultures as a part of mourning traditions typically associated with women and, in this case, represent a visible part of the social conditioning of femme gendered people linked to self-aggression. Among these gestures are wailing, hair pulling, cheeks/nail laceration, beating and cutting one’s body, self-immolation etc. At the same time, these mourning gestures bear significant similarities to violence against femmes in everyday life, as well as to the most frequent forms of self-injurious behavior.

By choosing these gestures, I wanted to draw attention to the existing connection between self-injurious behavior and the experience of violence and trauma as its trigger – and at the same time to discover some space for catharsis, absurdity, the grotesque, and humor in this emotionally charged subject.


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