One Girl, One Woman, One Endless Bar of Soap

07:24:08 close-up documentation

One Girl, One Woman, One Endless Bar of Soap
Allison Maria Rodriguez
video installation and live performance
30 minutes

Project Description

One Girl, One Woman, One Endless Bar of Soap is a video installation and live performance.  The artist is featured live, dressed in child-like clothing, in a bathtub filled with mud, dirty water, gravel and rocks.  For the duration of the performance she vigorously scrubs herself with a bar of soap until her skin is red.  Out of breath from exertion, her body is also being worn down by the gravel in the tub – so she becomes raw from her own actions as well as the surrounding debris.  A video projection surrounds her that features the artists in various metaphorical situations: posing for a school yearbook photo in which her pose is never quite right, black balloons being popped in her arms and between her legs, spitting up various substances, and close-ups of raw scrubbing hands.

Artist Statement

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness.  Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud:  this is the meaning of the word unspeakable.  Atrocities, however, refuse to be buried” -Judith  Herman, M.D., Trauma and Recovery.

This is a video installation and performance that functions to explore the psychological space of memory and trauma.  It attempts to generate a visual language for addressing a psychological experience often left unspoken or unacknowledged by the predominant discourse and the private dinner table conversation.  Acts of violence committed upon the body are not simply “washed away” with time, but are embedded within the psyche and become a fundamental component of the subject’s individual understanding of the experience of self-identity.  Attempts to integrate and process the act of violence, the trauma, is represented visually in an identity struggle where the lines between time, place, and subjectivity have been thoroughly blurred.  The violence never disappears in the reality of memory, but it transmutates and distorts, as the subject endeavors to comprehend the incomprehensible.  It is not only the history of an individual, but the history of a society as well.  This piece ultimately exists as an attempt to ignite dialogue about the effects and impact of trauma, and to bring to the foreground an experience unfortunately not uncommon in our society but definitely inadequately recognized, spoken, understood and addressed.


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