KIRSTEN BRANDT / JANET HAYATSHAHI
Blending projected media, recorded media, and live performance, we have created a non-linear piece examining beauty and objectification of the female form, particularly within the #metoo movement. “Launching Ships” is a modern riff on the Helen of Troy myth told from the perspective of the aging woman once deemed the most beautiful in the world. In this solo performance, Helen has just returned from the Trojan War. The audience becomes her confidant as she prepares for a formal gathering in her “honor.” She has no idea what to expect at this soiree: love, hostility, or indifference. Her estranged husband, Menelaus, watches her prepare for the event through a live feed camera, which is projected for the audience to see. Helen’s projected image becomes the embodiment of the male gaze, at times zooming in on specific parts of her body for gratification. Unseen by Menelaus, there is a second screen. Here, we project Helen’s inner truth and memories, some of which Helen doesn’t want to face. Helen engages the audience in conversations about sex, rape, and parenthood, at times turning a microphone on them to answer the unanswerable.
“Launching Ships” examines how society dictates what a woman should do with her body and, quite literally, how society uses images as a means to suppress and control women. Through “Launching Ships” we explore the mediatized form in live performance. We experiment with how a live-feed camera can fragment and deconstruct the body, allowing for a variety of perspectives through which an audience can have a multiplicity of experiences.