for #III. pure danger / dangerous purity
Differens Magazine, winter 22 / 23
In the Spring of 2022, the artists Naomi Credé and the Rubber Glove Dove Collective consisting of Anna Caroline Kristensen and Astrid Haugesen presented their individual works at the Bergen-based project space NOGOODS. Both works opened up a critical reading of the historic construction of the female as a disembodied voice or “hyper presence” in relation to purity, cleaning, sweetness and the service industry.
Naomi Credé – Sickly Sweet (smile sweetly)
Sound piece with performative installation by NOGOODS.
This part of Naomi Credé’s practice and research evolves around disembodied female voices in architecture, used to control social movement, order, information and service (Alexa & Co). She works with real and fictional spaces, focusing on notions of dizziness, exhaustion and disorientation. So does the sound piece Sickly Sweet (smile sweetly), that was supported by a performative spatial installation by NOGOODS.
Upon entering the installation, a choir of soft voices creates an imaginary space of sweet tastes, textures, images, and smells. Every now and then, an eager female voice interrupts by offering her service.
“Hii how may I help you?”
“Have a nice day!”
The air is filled with sweet cravings and possible consumption.
The sound welcomes the audience into a space covered in pink light, with a table in the middle. Here, creamy puffs, fruits, sugary sweets, edible glitter and cream wait to be devoured. A shiny path leads the audience from the door to the table. The path made of sugary water is as sticky as the female voices and glues the audience to the floor. Squeezes of steps join the soundscape while forcing the visiting bodies to acknowledge how their presence leaves traces and activates the space. Two bodies are engaged in serving the audience, slowly heating and brewing syrupy liquid to cover the sweets on the table. The sound lingers and loops.
The disembodied female sounding voice underlines the Western social construction of the female as a sweet pleasurable object for capitalist consumption.
Servitude, trustability and an air of purity read into the female voice are highlighted to create the imaginary of a space of permission, care and safety.
Through Credés work, the performative- directive impact of ungraspable, sterile female sounding voices onto the moving body and its use becomes underlined. Its disembodied presence goes along with authoritarian anonymity read into the female tone.
A few weeks later, the space is taken over by two female-coded bodies corseted into gowns made of yellow rubber gloves. It is the performance “Clean” by the Rubber Glove Dove Collective formed by Anna Caroline Kristensen and Astrid Haugensen.
Already during the performance setup, passing people stopped, pulled out their phones, returned, filmed, and laughed. Quickly, the shopfront turned into a vitrine, exhibiting bodies in baroque dresses made of yellow rubber gloves. They cleaned the window.
Their faces: anonymous, whitened.
Their eyes: covered by 90s sunglasses.
Their lips: screamingly red.
Their presence: funny, irritating, visible.
The simple elements of this performance expressed abstractly the hidden violences imposed upon not only female bodies, but also socially marginalized cleaning service professionals. Instead of rendering a body invisible, the bright yellow gowns pushed both bodies into an unignorable hyperpresence, turning the performance into a beautiful political comment on the existing social dynamics around cleaning and female bodies.
As the performers were standing in the window, entangled in play and preparation, their bodies continuously shifted from private to public, as they were responding to the external gaze or the passing unexpecting audience. Pose here, a wave, a smile. The light, open and humorous air of these interactions almost hid the voyeristic gaze, a gaze that was captured and cemented by the audiences and the by-passers countless mobile devices. The usually invisibilized practice of women who clean was recognized and became hyper-present.
The performance combined a sound piece, a feminist reinterpretation of the Cinderella fairytale, a choreography of baroque dances and interactions reflecting on competition, support and comedy. The symbols were clear: cleaning, an invisibilized practice in public, and unpaid domestic labor of the often female body in private. Sterility, protection as well as sensations of disgust and discomfort were provoked by the gloves and their smell that lingered in the space. The baroque dresses spoke of social containment, restrictive politeness and a composed female presence. The choreography started slow and geometric, then became comic as the performers seemed to liberate themselves from their determined structure in favor of their humoristic interaction. All was anchored in a lavish 90’s vibe and a feminist deconstruction of the Cinderella fairytale.
Challenging purity, the service of cleaning and the social corset constructed around a female-coded body seemed like guiding elements of performance. Perfected, clean, untouchable, dissident through joy and laughter: the performances addressed historic patriarchal fictions.
In Naomi Credé’s work, the stickiness of sugary sweetness lured the audience into consumption, hereby subtly commenting on the capitalistic construction of pleasure relying on the female (voice) for service or care. The performance of the Robber Glove Dove Collective placed the body into the center hereby referencing to the immaterial forces of social restrictions based on historic patriarchal fictions related to the female body, service and purity.
The performances were part of the spring program at the project space NOGOODS.
NOGOODS is a moving project space for slippery ideas, repeating failures, collapsing structures, fluid narratives, and cross-disciplinary moods.
Based in Bergen, NOGOODS is a nomadic project space for performative discursive practice, spatial exploration, non-linear research, and collaboration. Our focus lies on the impact of architecture and performativity on social patterns within a queer theoretical framework. NOGOODS is interested in creative and social practices that question power dynamics through architectural interventions, performance, assemblage, and conversation.
NOGOODS is located within the social dynamics of Norway. By collaborating with international and local artists, NOGOODS aims to develop a practice that explores ongoing contemporary discourses from different perspectives. We want to get comfortable in the thresholds of imposed discomfort or insecurity in order to find words, languages and expressions that are still being formulated.
Open since April 2022, NOGOODS is run by Danja Burchard, who is dedicated to art, performance, creative production and facilitation, and Maike Statz, who works with art, writing, research and interior architecture.
More about Danja Burchard and NOGOODS here