Girl in Suitcase
30 April 2016
At Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi, Venice, Italy for Contemporary Venice: Architectures of Identities.
‘Contemporary Venice: Architectures of Identities‘ was an international art exhibition of photography, video art, installation, painting and performance art, presented by International ArtExpo, It’s Liquid Group, Venice Art House and Ca’ Zanardi. I was invited to perform at the opening of the event, on 30 April 2016 at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi.
This performance of ‘Girl in Suitcase’ was based on the version I’d created for the Telegraph Hill Festival in London a month earlier, but with two significant adaptations: this version was just 20 minutes long – the maximum duration permitted for the event – and I performed its dialogue entirely in Italian.
For the opening scene – emerging from the suitcase and becoming unbandaged – I introduced myself in character, speaking a little of my background, born in a place where women have rights and are mostly free. In the second scene, I put on my most revealing G-string, a pair of red stilettoes and lipstick, then struck a pose before reading ‘the news’ – statistics for rape, honour killings, FGM around the world. In this way I acknowledged my own personal bubble of relative gender equality is far from representative globally.
My partner, Steve, came on stage to remove my clothes and appear menacing with a rope and knife, but this did not last long before I told him to get lost – a reminder of cosier power relations! Now naked once more and holding a kitchen knife aloft, I delivered what I call my ‘crashing through the universe’ monologue. It’s about how women have power that men have suppressed, and which eventually will explode as they command their own journey.
This heralded my own self-direction, stylistically, with a movement pose performed to Patti Smith’s ‘Free Money’. I enjoyed beginning extremely slowly, before becoming increasingly wild, expansive and free, as in the video below.
With Steve by my feet, I then poured some of my menstrual blood on to my body and invited the audience to make their own marks on me with body paint.
You can read more about the performance and our experiences around Venice in my 2016 blog, ‘It’s Liquid in Venice‘, and in Steve’s 2016 blog, ‘Architectures of Identities in Venice‘.
Recording of a scene from the live performance (2 minutes).
This video is free to access but if you would like to make a donation towards my work as an artist, it would be highly appreciated as the performance was entirely self-funded – paypal.me/EstherBunting
Photos of the live performance – the first two photos are from our participation in ‘Mobilé’, a performance by Glynis Ackermann on the same evening ahead of ‘Girl in Suitcase’.
You can watch a full performance of Mobilé from 2014 in Zurich, at Vimeo: Glynis Ackermann – Mobilé.
Drawings made by audience members during the performance.
Promo flyers for the performance.