My experience of Sister also made me think further on my earlier musings on lots of the surface-level work I’ve seen that deals with gender and feminism from a theoretical stance, naming rather than embodying its beliefs. Work that is purely political/theoretical, and presents issues rather than shows a lived understanding of them, that isn’t having a dialogue, that has no personal elements, is never beautiful. It is never poetic. It doesn’t go nearly as deep or have as profound an effect as work that is embodied. This is because the fundamental fact about art is that it does what words can’t. If you can get it from reading an article, if you can just say it with words, you don’t need art to be your medium. It’s been a rich experience to be on this placement whilst making solo work in other modules. I’ve been reading a lot of queer poetry and writing as part of Text In Performance. This piece particularly stood out for me in its approach:
Sister is explicitly queer, but unlike this poem it is not framed as an insight in to queerness for ‘straight’ people. Neither is it aimed at just those who identify as queer. What’s more, the performers play with the explicitness of their queer identities in how they dress. The piece starts with both sisters in long brown wigs, lacey underwear and heels. Audience members who do not know the performers may only realise this is a part of the full picture when both remove their wigs to reveal their shaved heads. Does this approach make the work more accessible? This lead to an exploding of my existing enquiry;
Is it more radical to be visibly queer i.e other challenging social norms and idea of normal head on, or to be perceived as part of heteronormativity but have an apparent queer way of thinking/being/expressing thoughts?
When is it my agency to make work that is explicitly queer? How naturally does my work address queer issues? When is it my agency to make queer work for an audience that isn’t queer? What do you say to inspire an audience who are already radical/queer in their thinking?
I recently read an article on Autostraddle, specifically on the recently released lesbian love story epic Blue Is The Warmest Colour, that addresses the importance of queer stories being told by those who are queer. I think I shall take forward in to my practice Kate's (the author’s) words:
‘Queer stories can be universal, but they should still be told differently, and by the people who intimately know them.’ (read the full article here)
I believe Sister achieves this beautifully; it is unashamedly queer without excluding those who don’t already identify that way. It has universal appeal in its’ telling of female sexuality that differs from the way we usually see it depicted. It reminded me that my queer perspective is valid, and perhaps more universal than I think.