Under Their Watch I Whisper To Your Lips  


Single-Channel digital color video installation, with sound, 5:16 Min.

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Under Their Watch, I Whisper To your Lips is loosely based on a story told to me by a friend who did time in the penitentiary in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In his story, the inmates, himself included, would hide a sharp object such as razorblades in their mouth and transfer them between themselves by a quick encounter, face to face, so that the prison guards wouldn’t notice. The razor blade was used for protection but also for assault. The project aims to explore the peculiar intimacy that takes place under the constant surveillance in prison institutions. In the case of the performance, the cameras play that role of the always watching prison guard. I am interested in this juxtaposing element of exchanging the razorblade from one mouth to another mouth: through a kiss, blood and saliva are exchanged. The choreography is simple, the bodies clash at first to demonstrate the masculine dominance over each other, then the exchange happens, carefully carried out by both men, in fear to not to slice each other’s lips. In a weird way this exchange of a razorblade, as bizarre as it is, hints to the body’s desire for intimacy regardless of the condition; gender and sexual prefix are dissolved, what remains is the body longing for another body. In prisons all around the world prisoners are deprived of intimacy. They are constantly watched and live in segregation. Sex between prison inmates is punished by spending time in the “hole” (solitude confinement).

©Branislav Jankic