The performance “Pain is something to get over” is a form of a game, during which questions arise, such as: where are the boundaries of other people’s subjectivity and their right to self-determination.
The starting point for the entire event was an interactive interpretation of the poem by Magdalena Jedra. The dancer was asked to dance to each sound of the sentence-poem “Pain is something to get over”.
The first stage of the performance – an interactive interpretation of the sentence “Pain is something to get over” – gave the viewer a chance to create a connection with the dancer, trapped in the virtual space of the monitor, closed in the twelve window-frames, who had to play over and over again the same sentence, which because of the viewer’s random choices was meant to lose its semantic meaning.
The next stage of the performance was to take it away from the virtual reality and put it in the real world. It turned out that the interactive interpretation of the poem involving a male dancer locked up in a “cage” and a female dancer trapped in the computer’s screen can tell a story about stereotypes and about how people give in to them, as well as about manipulating other people with impunity and using power against other human beings.
I proposed the audience what was a seemingly innocent game. There was a female dancer dancing to different sounds in twelve separate window-frames. By clicking on a particular frame, the viewer activated a sound. I asked the male dancer, who was closed in a plastic cage, to also dance to the sounds he was hearing. My task was to film the entire event.
During the first performance, which took place in UFA, I asked the dancer to act as a fully independent entity that has its own will, the ability to decide what to do and how to do it. During the performance at the Palace of Culture I gave the dancer very strict rules, as a result of which he could only respond to the sounds he was hearing, he had to become an object that came to life only when he heard the sounds.
The manipulation appeared on several levels: in my actions, in the dancer’s reactions (though his identity was of great significance), and in the viewers’ actions.
The “user”, the participant of the event, gave in to the temptation of manipulation. By clicking the cursor on the virtual frames, they could control the movement of the male dancer, and hence his existence.
The audience, the witnesses of the manipulation, was also being manipulated. By its reactions it also manipulated the person sitting behind the screen. Some people in the audience were enjoying it, others, who understood the situation, commented on the fact that the man in the cage was being deprived of his freedom.
The human-entity, the dancer-entity, has ultimately put up resistance and stopped dancing. What are the lessons coming from this experience? The greater the awareness of our own identity, the more difficult it is to be subjected to the destructive effect of manipulation. The stereotype that emerged from the sentence “Pain is something to get over” is a form of social and cultural manipulation. It is a pity that throughout the performance the female dancer almost disappeared from the view, she became only a transparent virtual sounds’ performer. It is a stereotype that distressingly repeats itself.