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Oya Damla

first performed on November 23, 2019
The Mudlark Public Theatre, New Orleans, LA
performed once in 2019


Brooklyn, NY


“Trigger Warning 2,” performed as part of The Vanishing Performance Festival, was an exploration of the body-centric nature of performance art. To me, performance is something I use to contextualize my own experiences, exploring the mundane and specific aspects of my life as well as the extraordinary and universal.

I needed but didn’t have time or money for a haircut and so my piece began with me cutting my own hair to a relevant Shakira song.

I pulled out shears and said, “Trigger warning. I am going to cut. My hair.”

I walked in a circle, in the center of which a spell candle was burning, chopping off pieces of my hair. Privately, I was casting a spell. Once the song was over I pulled out a ball of velvet string and handed the ends to audience members, forming a sort of maze across the floor. I then crawled beneath the strings, held up my sheers and said, “Trigger warning. I am going to cut myself.” I added, “If this makes you uncomfortable feel free to leave. Even if it means dropping the strings.”

Several people got up to exit and I felt the velvet swishing around me.

The song “Forget” by Marina was playing. It was an extension of my spell. I wanted to forgive myself for a mistake I had made, the consequences of which I was in an overdue process of accepting. It was at this point that I realized the tension I created in the room was enough of an energetic presence on its own—I didn’t need to self harm. When you bring other bodies into “private” matters it tends to shift them. And when you introduce the explicit concept of self harm into performance art, a medium rooted in physical endurance and pain, people tend to get uncomfortable.

When the song ended I said, simply, “I lied.”

Placing down my spell candle, I cut the strings in front of me one by one.