Samira Elagoz is an artist born in Helsinki, currently based in Amsterdam. Samira has graduated in choreography from the Amsterdam University of the Arts. Her work has received great response internationally. At Dublin Fringe Festival she will perform her award-winning piece Cock Cock..Who’s There?.
Cock Cock.. Who’s there? is a documentary-performance which explores sexual violence and coping with it. What message do you want to transmit with this performance?
“I want to convey not only how complex it can be to cope with rape, but that there are many ways to handle such trauma, they may not all be reasonable, but they are acceptable. The work aims to explore, not judge. Not only men, but also my own actions. Victims of sexual violence don’t necessarily lose their sexuality and shouldn’t have to stay away from it in fear or shame. I wanted to depict myself as a woman who is aware of her sexual image and is not afraid, or guilty, about showing herself as such. I address misconceptions about rape victims, expose aspects of rape culture, and share certain patterns I noticed in male behaviour. And do this in a way that would be accessible to men too. Without vilifying them.”
The performance is very personal. What was the process like?
“Proper analysis of yourself comes only with hindsight. So I waited quite some time before I made this piece, until I felt ready to share my story in an informed and contemplative way. Throughout the process of creating this performance, I was constantly trying to find the right balance between the personal, the artistic, and the sociological observations. Of course when putting your own life so strongly in your work this might cause stress of people misunderstanding. But of course in the end they are free to interpret, you can only give the rules of your own work but not how they take it.”
What are your expectations for Dublin Fringe – festival?
“I’m super excited. The program looks well curated. I just read an interview with the director of the festival Ruth McGowan where she says: “Fringe has equality in its DNA, it’s always been a place where radical women could thrive.” Looks very much true, happy to be part of this festival!”
What are the most common responses to your performance?
“It really divides people. It’s not quite as extreme as “hate it or love it”, but it does provoke strong feelings. Quite often I hear people were debating about it into the late hours. I think because I’m not moralising or giving a clear statement of my own position towards the things I show. This has been very intentional, I want to leave the audience to decide for themselves and with a desire to speak their mind. For me of course most touching is when other victims have said it empowered them. I’ve had some unexpected reactions too, like some women shaming me or some men defending the work or tell me of their own experiences with sexual violence.”
You have performed in several countries. Have you noticed any differences in the audience’s reactions?
“As an artist I find it super important to try to show my work in as many places as possible. Which I think is a true test for one’s work, to see how other cultures receive it. This particular performance rarely fails to make an impact, but the reactions are not too different from country to country as many of the topics it touches are quite universal. So I think it’s more about an individual’s experiences how they relate to it.”
Cock Cock.. Who’s there?, Project Arts Centre, Space Upstairs, 39 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2. http://www.fringefest.com/festival/whats-on/cock-cock..-whos-there.
14.9. at 9:00 pm & 15.9. at 9:00 pm. Admission €16 / €14.
Text: Anna Suoninen, photo: Samira Elagoz