Penitentiary of Fallen Women (2015)
The performance Penitentiary of Fallen Women explored the use of language as a performance tool and hierarchical weapon looking at the history of the Magdalene Laundries. The laundries were an oppressive religious system that exploited vulnerable women from the 1600's through to 1996. Initially established as safe houses for prostitutes the laundries became labour camps where women were taken from the outside world to work without pay for the religious orders, subsidised by the state. Inside the institutions the women worked in silence, had their names replaced, clothes taken, and often suffered physical abuse. Within the performance situations such as a sex education lesson and Enda Kenny's (the Irish Prime Minister) 2013 apology to the Magdalene victims were distorted as they were pushed through new rhetoric. Performers within the work interchanged between themselves as individuals working for the artist, and a character within a constructed environment. The performance opened up a commentary between the performance space and the church (with its ventures) as the ultimate theatre. In these parallel contexts the work generated and exemplified existing hierarchies as it borrowed forms, symbols, roles, language and history.
Performed with: Razan Akramawi, Joana Gelažytė, Silje Johannessen, Ronak Moshtaghi
Photography: Ayatgali Tuleubek