Dress of Freedom

A strict taboo on dresses for European men started about the first third of the 19th century, and although from the middle of the 20th century it was periodically broken, and in the 21st century fashion shows of male models presenting dresses which were considered feminine began to take place and an illusion of an era of gender-neutral clothing was created, still it was and is a privilege to appear in dresses of "star" men, artists and musicians. In everyday life, this type of clothing for men is for the most part socially reprehensible and unacceptable. Despite the wider latitude of freedom in Western Europe it is difficult to imagine a non-transgender man, a non-cross-dresser, a homo- or even more simply a hetero-male in a dress, for example in the workplace. The loyalty of women to men in dress is also mutually condemned. The division into masculine and feminine touches also relations of power.  The rhetoric of conservative groups sees the wearing of women's clothes as a loss of masculinity, a chabbing or at least a perversion.

I have always been interested in this image of a man in a dress, just as I have always been interested in the combination of unconventional, rare forms, and naturally I have always wondered "well, why?". How, by and large, can a mere piece of fabric be so gender-normative? Where do the reasons for this taboo come from in today's realities? What is the reason for travesty artists to choose an objectified sexual image and so on and so forth?

The media image of the Belarusian female face of protest was certainly strong, though it was criticized by feminists. This in no way negated the strength of the women protesters, who were misled by the pseudo-feminist manipulative position of power. "Where are the men actually?" - I asked, and was told how they were being whipped by the police, but my imagination was already painting a utopian picture of universal gender unity in dresses at the protests, which naturally ended in victory, but dresses on men, damn it, are taboo in Belarus, because everything that is not the norm is taboo.

I thought about the body. About how we are all different and at the same time the same. About how we all, to one degree or another, think about it, compare, look back, keep in shape. Or do not ...

Therefore, I decided to visualize these thoughts literally and measure and draw all visitors to the exhibition. I put each one to a sheet of paper and made marks of measurements: the outline of the head, height, shoulder width, legs. When people all came and went, my drawing from marks gradually turned into a figure, a sort of collective body.

Moving away from the sheet, after I measured them, people tried to find their size and shape in this common body, but this, of course, was impossible. They smiled.

At the end of the performance, I outlined my figure with a red marker, as a uniting part, belonging to this collective portraits.

2019 Berlin, SomoS, #PAS 65, Performance Art Studys,

Foto @Monika Deimling

Measerment

White flag. HD video. 2022. Music: Apathe.

The white flag of peace is not torn, it is made of bandages. It is a failed, impossible negotiation, a desperate call for peace, a call to lay down arms to all those sent to fight and capture rather than defend.

White flag

Performance

Filmography

Dress of freedom. 2022
Measerment. 2019

Intimate diary. 2017
We won! 2017
Moksha. 2017
Stairs. 2015

Erasing. 2014
They say they laid down their arms. 2014
Moscow-Riyhskaya. 2012

Yanka Smetanina 

Multidisyiplinary artist, researcher 

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