project image
Akvilė Matulaitytė

first performed on November 10, 2020
Online for International Performance Triennial DEFORMES / filemed at home in Kaunas, Lithuania
performed once in 2020


camera by Akvilė Matulaitytė

Kaunas, Lithuania


“The Message” is about ownership of the female body, about recent situations in countries nearby and far away. About political violence, social violence, medical violence, and constraint over women’s bodies and choices.

While observing ongoing violence against women and violations of their rights in many countries worldwide, this performance was fueled by recent law in neighboring country. On October 22, 2020, Poland’s constitutional court ruled that abortion due to fetal defects was unconstitutional and is legal only in cases of risk to a woman’s life, rape, or a high probability of a severe and irreversible fetal impairment. Poland is one of the few countries in the world to largely outlaw abortion after decades of permissive legislation—the law is one of the most restrictive in Europe.

Throughout the entire performance the camera doesn’t go up to show my face, as a reference to this insignificance of all the bodies of mothers, who suffer having no choice or ownership of their flesh and mind. I take a medical needle and inscribe words to my skin: “Mother still owns her body.” And even though I live in a free country now, I admit how fragile the illusion of freedom and choice is. Everything might change in a blink of a political move. And even if I have a freedom of choice for motherhood, there still are so many unseen threads of power regulating our everyday lives as mothers, as women, as human beings.

On a more personal level this performance was made questioning normality: statuses you have to satisfy, mass images you have to match, an ideal to reach: of being a mother. Actions against your own body are put in the frame of normality, depending on legitimate cultural beliefs.