Gender Monologues
Diana Blok

impression of the installation at CCBB, Brasília

Gender Monologues is an interactive media installation about our historical and cultural understanding of gender beyond stereotypes. Diana Blok challenges static, mental and cultural conventions by giving back the imagination to the limitations on gender and sexual identity.

We experience twelve life-size video portraits on six screens of actors and actresses, performing their dream character of the opposite sex. Diana Blok intends to explore how individuals with a history of creating theatrical illusions, relate to their own intimate role-playing fantasies, crossing gender boundaries and finding ways to display them for the public viewing. The viewer will explore a well-known face, recognizable under the assumed fictitious identity and explore an unknown face in a known role.

During the 72 minute-installation all actors remain present, while only one voice speaks at a time. Between silence and the spoken word, the intrinsic tension of border zones is redefined and turned into a poetic exercise of alterity. The result is multidimensional: portraits of our time containing speeches and visions that bring revealing thoughts and insightful conversations about identity, revolution and desire in what feels like a personal confrontation with each actor.

The merging of literature, performance, film, the criss-crossing of time & genders, invites us to rethink our biases about one art form taking precedence over another. There is an interesting suspension between the real and the imaginary. The audience experiences the presence of all actors silently facing the public, confronting themselves with being present in silence as in their particular roles as one character speaks. The interaction which occurs amongst them generates the illusion that they are actually reacting to each other and maintaining a kind of dialogue.

Between theatre and film, literature and photography, voice, movement, and the diversity of cultures, we recognize in this piece the potential to create a global dialogue. Recently in Paramaribo actors were added, who selected the roles of Marilyn Monroe and James Baldwin and now in Amsterdam we count with the presence of Claron McFadden,Vanja Rukovina Karina Holla and Levi de Kleer all in the manifestation of their character of choice. Each actor’s choice is a reflection of their own culture, creating in this way a ‘cross-casted library of cultures’. Intercultural participation is an essential element of this installation. Each actor speaks the monologue in the language of his/her choice (English subtitling provided).

Gender Monologues was selected by ‘Dutch Manifestations Abroad’ with the Dutch Performing Arts Fund in 2016, making it possible to realize the pilot project in Rio de Janeiro in collaboration with TEMPO FESTIVAL, and including four distinguished Brazilian actors. The result was beyond expectation, reaching a total of 21,500 visitors in 13 weeks.

The installation premiered in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 in collaboration with TEMPO Festival, continued to CCBB in Brasilia and then to Paramaribo. In each city local actors/performers are added.

The presentation in Amsterdam involved twelve actors instead of six, creating new interactions and exploring other relationships of the monologues in dialogue amoungst each another.

See also:
Exhibition opening speech at Nieuw Dakota (Amsterdam) by Chris Keulemans

Abke Haring (NL) – Hamlet
Claron McFadden (US) – Orfeu Negro
Cas Enklaar (NL) – Madame Lubov
Grace Passo (BR) – Martin Luther King Jr.
Helen Kamperveen (SR) – James Baldwin
Levi de Kleer (NL) – Pina Bausch
Karina Holla (NL) – Max
Mateus Solano (BR) – Cinderella
Matheus Nachtergaele (BR) – His Mother
Purcy Tjin (SR) – Marilyn Monroe
Ogutu Muraya (KE) – Wangari Maathai
Vanja Rukavina (BA/NL) – Cleopatra

Diana Blok – director, camera
Pawel Pokutycki – interactive media
Glauber Coradesqui – dramaturge
Karin van Dijk – makeup artist
Inge Weeda – sound technician
Tibor Dieters – 2nd camera

AFK, BeamSystems and Embajada del Uruguay