“Stereotyped” (A performance research fully in progress. Therefore this should not be seen as a finished work.)
Two video-loops of a performance carried out in Aarhus 3 times.
The title “Stereo-typed” is a remixed hybrid-born word, ‘stereotyping and the inbuilt wording ‘typing’ indicating. stereotyping is something that actively happens to you, while you are trying to live your life as an ordinary average Dane. In Denmark you are a target that is only visible in the papers.they let you out of your categorized box when its again time to recreate and refresh what society needs you to be and look like.not your real nose picking self of course!Maybe one should thus actively participate in stereotyping. But when that happens, the ‘stereotypers’ dont even see themselves being mocked for their wrong deeds.
This work has been carried out as a ‘research performance’, as to find out whether being an ethnic minority bride could actually attract the same Danish media created stereotyping and racializing hatred and eurocentrism, that I so often meet when I come to Denmark.
Doing this performance in Aarhus and not in Copenhagen has made a totally positive outcome for the whole process of walking down from Aarhus Banegard (train station) together with a crowd of people leaving the station and down to the first set of traffic lights on Stroget.
Attempting to do the walk in Aarhus was far much easier than in Copenhagen I felt, as Aarhus is smaller with a local feel and to me less discriminating (at least on the surface). Copenhagen has stopped me in doing this performance and other performances along the years. Its always easier to do brave things when we are away from home.
I did the walk/stroll 3 times and my experience changed each time. I found that rather tan being seen as an ethnic minority woman mainly exoticized/orientalized I ended up becoming ‘just a bride without her husband’.
In fact the bridal gown gave a sort of protection from the eurocentric gaze that I am often prone to in my home country Denmark.
Realizing that people are always happy to see a bride and that of course the event of marriage is a happy one. Although some people thought I was modeling for the Bruun’s Galleri Shopping Centre, while others tried to avoid eye contact with me even feeling a bit intimidated by the situation, as formally and normally a wedding is something you are personally invited to, but I deliberately invited all of Aarhus city to take part in my ‘bridal stroll’. Some just liked the dress, no one looked at the colour of my hair as I had expected them to (or maybe a few people did?). Maybe I am prejudiced as well?!
The only ones who saw and questioned the red writing ‘victim?’ on my back decolte, were in fact the young teenagers of multicultural backgrounds, that I am very acquainted with from my teaching years in Denmark. They were the most brave and honest of all.
My negative expectations, which had scared me, due to racist reactions that I might receive realizing this performance didn’t really happen. My overall idea was to underline the nuances of the everyday stereotypes of ethnic minority women and how they are not all being forcedly married by their families, nor do they have to wear veils, be covered or always have a husband by their sides. In fact they can walk independently alone as a bride even. More than anything that day I felt alone, as a woman. That was a general feeling that goes beyond the colours of our skins, whether Danish or New Danish. In my opinion this is a feeling that is enmeshed in Danish culture and its gender relations. At the end I remembered the loneliness that I had felt for years in Denmark. Being a woman in Denmark is not an easy task.