Marked For Life

‘Marked for Life’ is a literal and extreme depiction of Susan Bordo’s statement that Patriarchy damages the female body. In it I perform a ritual of marking myself by various means with self- cutting as the climax. These marks represent the different ways men are capable of marking the female body. The marks also parallel the permanent damage that women can experience in both subtle and overt ways as a result of patriarchy.

This is my second 'play' after 'The Machine', (performed in 2008). The performance is divided into three scenes and is directed by a self produced audio track. It was performed at Alice Yard.

A play in three scenes

Scene One: I begin with a confrontation of the self as a reflection; with a glass screen in between myself and a mirror. I do a pathetic back and forwards step of trying to get through the glass to get to the mirror. The cam corder feeds a projection of the back of my head creating a disorienting effect as it seems to swing back and forth right next to the actual image of me facing the crowd stepping back and forth, awkwardly hitting the glass that confines me (see Figure One). This creates three versions of myself; subject, reflection and projection. It presents the idea of a fragmented or schizophrenic identity.

Scene Two: I sit at the table where I have four different marking tools. The section of the audio includes narration that tells the story of being marked by different men. The first marking is ‘marriage’; for that I prepare the sindoor[1] and place it on my own head. It is an awkward parody of the actual act which is supposed to be loving while I enact an act abandonment and betrayal. It drips pathetically down my forehead suggesting blood and domestic violence. Then I heat a ring and burn it into my side; this represents the marking of male territory again similar to marriage. Afterwards I heat a Kalchol[2] on a candle flame and pull down my skirt to reveal a tattoo near my hip, another mark of male ownership. Once it has been heated I place it firmly on the tattoo to obscure it. Subsequently I take staples and cut into my thighs by dragging it firmly across.

Scene Three: After these re-enactments, re-inscriptions I am purified from the contamination of male touch. So doing I invoke the Virgin Mary and take her mantle and place it on my head and walk out of the room to face the audience. I experience a transfiguration and I become the kind of statue of christian pilgrimages that invokes passion. A member of the crowd spontaneously began to cry and another fainted.

[1] A red liquid used to symbolize marriage status for Hindu women and is first applied on the bride’s forehead by the groom during the marriage ritual.

[2] The indo-creole word for a large cooking spoon.