These are the seeds or the germ for a larger body of work in video or stage that I am experimenting with, exploring ideas about the female body as a theater for violence. This is my lived experience and something I want to talk about in my work. Eventually I want to move through these images and get to a place of empowerment, but for now I just need to spend a little time meditating on the fear that I have felt and the violence I have experienced as a woman and a survivor.
The Title comes from Godard’s movie, My Life to Live, which was a formative work of art to me as a young woman growing up in Virginia under a shadow of violence, misogyny, and patriarchy. For me it was a vision of defiance and revolt, but it was still problematic in many ways, locating the woman within the male gaze and perpetuating the status quo.
I’ve been exploring some of these mythologies in my poetry and also interrogating the way in which I perpetuate the status quo in my own depictions of my lived experience–The poet TC Tolbert talks about the tensions he experiences as a trans man, where living as a male is personally radical for him, and yet, being a white straight male is not radical in the dominant culture at all and in many ways perpetuates the hetero-normative standard.
I feel this tension, too in the ways that my own personal exploration of myself and my experience as a woman may reinforce the very mythologies I am resisting. Is appropriating the Femme subversive, or is it the same old tired stereotypes that reinforces patriarchy? I don’t know, but I’m interested in the conversation. I’m also interested in interrogating my own proclivities for violence, something that is a common reaction to trauma.