Photo: Cedric Laurenty
The performance created by Ülfet Sevdi, montréal-based artist of Turkish origin, speaks of women — and young girls — removed, as the moves have been made vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced prostitution.
The war of the woman’s body a battlefield, to paraphrase the hard-hitting title for a piece of Matei Visniec. But the post-conflict ? Numbers Increase As We Count denounces the plight of women, in particular, in the Iraq post-invasion united states. The performance created by Ülfet Sevdi, montréal-based artist of Turkish origin, speaks of women — and young girls — removed, as the moves have been made vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced prostitution.
The performance begins in the lobby of the MAY. The designer tends, in turn, a cardboard box and a microphone to members of the audience. Obediently, each one reads a short explanatory text, in the official language of his choice (otherwise, the passages in English of this show trilingual benefit of surtitles). A clever way to engage directly with the public, even if it seems to me that the impact may have been even greater if the process — which also includes a translation in Turkish — had been shortened. Later, in the room, some will also be called upon to read documents from unknown sources, kinds of summary reports, but glaçants, on cases of trafficking. The message in all cases is clear : this problem, this suffering affect us also, we who live in ” one of the most protected countries in the world.”
Integrating documentation and performance Numbers Increase As We Count supports much of the load on a filmed interview with the feminist iraqi — exiled in Toronto — Yanar Mohammed, president of the Organization for women freedom in Iraq. Also very critical of the united nations, her book is a real indictment against the american occupation. The disastrous equipped bushienne is here held to be the main culprit of the victimization of women in the region.
But beyond this political analysis, one retains the efficiency that is evocative of some of the processes stage. As the projection, at one time, of this same interview on the body of a performer, and recalling the manipulation of the female flesh. Other use of the body in the scene : the reproduction of the postures of women croquées in photos — some alarming.
From a pile of clothes, the three women who slide through (Itir Artidi, Burcu Emeç and Ülfet Sevdi) reconstruct also feminine silhouettes on the ground. The trappings that they enfileront then one by one, naming each after a feminine first name. Footprint, slow, and of a severity appropriate, the representation is driven by a desire to humanize the issue, to give a life to these women, beyond the statistics, to make them real.
More questionable is this portion, which lack a bit of context, where we show short clips of filmed rehearsals, where we see the performers share their feelings, their doubts or their suffering.
We understand that through the ritual of counting that accompanied their artistic approach, they seek to connect to these abused women. A count that betrays the inability to achieve the estimated magnitude of the phenomenon. As the announcement of the eloquent title, the performance would never end…
Numbers Increase As We Count
A creation of Ülfet Sevdi. With Itir Artidi, Burcu Emeç and Ülfet Sevdi. Consultation dramatic : Emma Tibaldo, Sherry Yoon, Louis Patrick Leroux. Co-production of a Thought Experiment Productions. In MAY, until 2 march.