The Unspeakable - Performance Interviews


"The Unspeakable: Performance Interviews" is a series of 5 performance interviews where invited queer artists share, reflect and embody their experiences around systemic violence.

5 different topics were approached: homophobia, queer/ transphobia and hate crime, childhood sexual abuse, ableism, and racism/white supremacy.

 "The Unspeakable: Performance Interviews" has been funded by DISTANZEN Solo | Dachverband Tanz Deutschland and NEUSTARTKULTUR. 

Performative Interview n1 - "Referential Shame" with João Cidade (he/him) - Queer Artist

Abstr. "Referential Shame"

Ideas subtracted from João's interview:
- The lack of LGBTQ+ references and role models while growing up.
- The process of shaping our identity through those who are close, but who have nothing to do with us.
- The environment of secrecy surrounding our own identity.
- Having our sense of self targeted and stigmatized as negative and wrong, and its implication in the adult life.

Shame is not a biological emotion such as fear or anger. Instead it is a social construct, something that is caused upon us, with implications far more complicated when experienced repetitively. Repetition and normalization is what deepens and prolongs trauma. Trauma is what makes the feeling of shame survive and persist within us, long after having departed from the environment in which shame was inflicted.
Departing from oppressive environments and finding supportive and validating communities, is key for a healthy identity development. However, it is extremely hard to fully accomplish such healing, and to find our place in those communities, without understanding/ addressing trauma, and its long term effects.

For a thorough understanding of Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress:

For a quick reading:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/ symptoms-causes/syc-20355967
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/ptsd-trauma/coping-with-emotional-and- psychological-trauma.htm

For support:

- Global: https://checkpointorg.com/global/ 
- Germany:https://www.ipu-berlin.de/en/outpatient-service/ 


Performative Interview n2 - "Traumatic Duality" with Olympia Bukakkis (she/her) - Interdisciplinary Artist

Abstr. "Traumatic duality"

Ideas subtracted from Olympia's interview:
- How PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) hinders the stability and integrity of the sense of self;
- The stigma surrounding PTSD and the lack of public knowledge about it;
- The fear of being abandoned by those intimate/close to us when experiencing a psychological disorder that lacks social acceptance and awareness;
- The duality that emerges within our personalities from compartmentalizing/hiding PTSD symptoms.

Reflection: (This reflection is specific to individuals whose PTSD was developed out of trauma related with physical and psychological abuse, caused from one person(s) to another.)

PTSD profoundly affects the sense of self. Long after departing from the traumatic incident the body can still revisit the trauma through triggers. When triggered, the brain reacts as if the trauma is happening again, activating its freeze, fight, or flight response. When triggered, the individual no longer relies on their own capacity to recognize danger and remain safe.
Individuals suffering from PTSD no longer manage to rely on basic notions of boundaries and safety, as these two definitions have been shattered by the traumatic experience.

It's imperative to (re)learn how to trust one's sense of self when healing from traumas involving physical and psychological violence. One's identity is not the cause of the trauma, but rather the culture/society (with normalized queerphobia, misogyny, racism, ableism, etc) in which the trauma took place.

For a thorough understanding of Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/ symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

For support:

- Global: https://checkpointorg.com/global/
- Germany: https://www.ipu-berlin.de/en/outpatient-service/ 

For a quick reading:

Performative Interview n3 - "Childhood traumatic bond" with Rachael Mauney (they/them) - Performer and Choreographer

Abstr. "Childhood traumatic bond"

Ideas subtracted from Rachael's interview:
- Childhood sexual abuse and the perpetuation of the traumatic bond
- How the perpetrator holds control over the traumatized body long after the abuse is over - How growing up in an environment where abuse is normalised perpetuates that
environment in adulthood

Recreating abusive relations during adulthood as a consequence of childhood sexual abuse:
Often sexual predators justify their crimes by making the children believe that they were deserving of the abuse. Children are convinced that their bad behaviours and bad traits of personality are what caused the abuse. They are made to feel worthless. They are convinced that the abusing parent is the only person who will ever be capable of loving them despite all their faults.
Children grow up with the double narrative that they are undeserving of love and that love leads to violence. As adults, they lack healthy role models and tools to create healthy bonds with other people. They continue engaging in romantic relations that model the ones they had with their abusive parent(s). They, like all people, search for their first attaching models in their adult relations, which in this case, leads to further trauma.
Ultimately, the traumatized adult continues searching for the parenting love that was never received.
Mourning the absence of love from a parent is one of the hardest things to heal from, even more when connected to sexual violence. "If my parents were not capable of loving me, how will anybody be?"
Addressing, mourning, and accepting the loss of this love is the answer for this question.
The attachment between love and abuse, affection and violence begins to disintegrate once survivors understand that the abuse was never their fault, nor was it linked with their lack of worth, or them being undeserving of love. The negative attachment/craving starts to wear off when victims accept that the abuse was their parent's fault entirely. This understanding will create affective space where before was emotional void - space for others to come closer, for healthier relations to emerge and form, and for self-love.

Hotlines for sexual abuse victims:
https://galop.org.uk/get-help/helplines/ https://havennh.org/get-informed/male-survivors/

Performative Interview n4 - "Invisible Disability" with Anajara (she/they) - Interdisciplinary Artist

Abstr. "Invisible disability"

Ideas subtracted from Anajara's interview:
- How having invisible disabilities disadvantages you in a capitalistic/colonial society.
- The internalized ableism and self-doubt that originates from having your disabilities and adjacent symptoms discredited and diminished (gaslighting).
- Having a sense of diminished worth through having your work and talent attached to capitalistic/colonial standards of proficiency and value.

Ableism: "discrimination against people with disabilities. The discrimination can be intentional or unintentional and is based on the belief that there is a correct way for bodies and minds to function and that anyone who deviates from that is inferior." #1
Gaslighting: "a specific type of manipulation where the manipulator is trying to get someone else (or a group of people) to question their own reality, memory or perceptions". #2

There is much to be learned about people's relation with power and authority in how disabilities and invisible disabilities are experienced in our society. From an early age, schools, governments and, in many cases, our parental figures teach us to obey ableist standards of work, class, and production ("for our own survival") rather than defy them.
Patriarchy and toxic masculinity have taught us to discredit our pain (physical and emotional), and to feel ashamed of our limitations when confronted with colonial competitive standards of production.
We internalize capitalist oppression so profoundly and from such an early age, that in the end we no longer need any one to oppress us, - we become our own oppressor, and consequently, the oppressor of others.
Once patriarchy and capitalism crystallises in us, we become their agents, and those who defy it, our enemies.
The fight against ableism is first and foremost individual and internal.

Resources and Hotlines for Invisible Illnesses:
https://www.understood.org/articles/en/understanding-invisible-disabilities-in-the- workplace
https://www.hivelearning.com/site/resource/diversity-inclusion/invisible-disabilities/ https://www.invisibledisabilityproject.org

#1 https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-ableism-5200530
#2 https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-gaslighting-how-do-you-know-if-it-s-happening- ncna890866

Performative Interview n5 - "White Supremacy" with Sailesh Naidu (they/them) - Writer, Poet, Filmmaker

Abstr. "White Supremacy"

Ideas subtracted from Sailesh's interview:
- White liberal guilt
- The tokenizing of BIPOC histories and realities by white spaces
- White supremacy as a self-destructive cis-straight-male dominated society, taught to conquer and destroy rather than share resources, space and wealth sustainably and equitably.

For the past decades, we have seen how white colonial institutions - financial, cultural, humanitarian, etc (as well as isolated individuals) tokenize the experiences of BIPOC individuals under the premise of decolonial work.
They speak on behalf of BIPOC individuals without ever acknowledging how their white privilege is directly perpetrating segregation and marginalization.
The sense of entitlement of the white patriarchy (composed by cis men and women) has led them to appropriate the histories and resources of - e.g. Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Pacific Islanders, Asian - without any signs of accountability. White guilt continues to permeate conversations around responsibility and systemic racism with resistance and denial.
White individuals and institutions tend to avoid reflecting on their own wealth and privilege, as that would mean giving up a big share (if not all) of their resources to the communities deprived from white wealth.
White imperialism has conquered and ravaged lands across the globe for centuries under the veil of religious indoctrination and cultural hegemony.
White imperialism oppressed, dehumanized, and erased anyone whose body, behavior, and traditions would question the norms and beliefs of white political and religious leaders.
The white majority has learned and recreated the indoctrination of their ancestors, and benefited from the privilege adjacent to the white heteronormative rule and/or skin colour.
All white people have an obligation inside of white supremacist structures: to reflect the social status and power roles that are given to them, and the ways they feed into a system that excludes people of colour. The more cis-heteronormative a person is, the larger their (historical) obligation.
Reparations happen not only through the (incredibly slow) distribution of wealth through white powers to BIPOC marginalized communities, but also through white individuals confronting and exposing the colonial practices of their ancestors, families, employers, institutions, governments, as well as their own.

Resources on white supremacy:

Hotlines for hate crimes against BIPOC individuals: