Self-Anatomy 101

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A performance on stage developed during the program EMERGENYC, 2012

Performed at La MaMA Theater, New York, NY 2012 

Duration 12 minutes 40 seconds

Photos and video by The Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics

 

I love, I love to cook

I love to wash dishes after dinner

I love to wear heels

I wear a bra, I’ve never burned one

 

Self-Anatomy 101 is an autobiographical piece that explores cultural and gender identity through personal text, society’s conventions for women, and nationalistic hymns. The artist explores her three cultural backgrounds and her female cisgender identity. Polina was born in Russia from a Russian mother and raised in the border town of Juarez, Mexico (from a Mexican father) and the United States. 

 

I love to have multiple partners at the same time

For fun and pleasure

Maybe because I’m American

 

The performance began with Polina coming out onto the stage wearing three layers of ‘wraps’. First, her legs and arms were tied up, the second layer consisted of a hand-made ‘suit’ made of semi-transparent lycra covering her body from head to toe and the third layer was a Mexican flag wrapped around her torso. 

 

I use sarcasm and states of melancholy

When I’m in desperation 

Maybe because I’m Russian

 

She recited the pledge of allegiance for Mexico and the United States and the national hymn for the former Soviet Union – all three nations representing her cultural identity, during which time she untied her arms and unwrapped herself from the flag. With her fingernails she struggled to tear the lycra and uttered phrases that characterized her as being a woman. To have a female body, to wear certain clothing, to behave in a certain way – creates at first laughter from the audience and then a deeper reflection on complex cultural expectations and one’s own desires.

 

My body has been made to have children

I’d love to have children

I’d love not to have children

Link to full performance 

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