THE WORTH OF LIVE GIRL LABOR
One of the more resonate performances I've seen this year was by Danielle Deadwyler over the summer entitled “Muhfuckaneva(luvd)uhs: Real Live Girl.” Also known as Didi Xio, she completed three back to back performances presented by Ladyfest and Eyedrum with the backing of an Idea Capital Grant. Highjacking the self-aware hashtag MNLU from Drake, the multimedia, endurance based performance was set on corners where the shadow of strip clubs looms large. Out on the street, the nighttime event was infused with the illicit tone of prostitution. In a city tarnished by sex-trafficking, the effect is provocative. While the hip-hot music, exotic dancing and video projection more inline with the elements of a music video, “Muhfuckaneva(luvd)uhs” is more than a spectacle. It's one in which the audience is complicit, consuming it like heartless deadbeat.
The contradictory roles of the Mother and Fucker, derived from elements African-American female experience are rooted in devalued feminine work. The character of the Mother is in the looped, projected video. Cycling through routine, Deadwyler focuses on the painted breast and hair styling. Flashing over this alternate the words “MOTHER” and “FUCKER.” The repetition of the projection is compelling at first, but after time fails to hold your interest. The private performance of domesticity is overshadowed by the live component of the Fucker.
From corner of Moreland and Memorial, Deadwyler danced barefoot, intensifying the labor of the performance. Image courtesy of Haylee Anne.
In front of the video, Deadwyler twerked wearing black and white bikini, under the eye of the police, both bodyguard and bouncer. Veiled in a fashion after Minova rape victims, her mask renders her anonymous like a fake name. When she feels the fantasy, she lets out an orgasmic scream. Startling the unaware, street traffic brought another layer of spontaneity to the performances. This created a protectiveness in the audience, possessive of the artist and their entertainment. Yelling, “Knock it off,” like a suspicious neighbor, the passerby demanded an end to be put to the performance, and threatening to call the already present police. If only we could put an end to societal pressure demanding well-coiffed beauty, thick sexuality of African American women, while also saying this labor is not worth respect.