Artistic, but also cultural practices represent and simulate other ranks, but rarely when they function as such. Marina and Boris, while doing what they do, simulate these actions, performing them in the context of their gender identities. The birth convention of a feminine woman and a male man is a cultural construct, which, besides being a part of their self-identification, is also the key to the viewers who perceive them through the gender construct they represent. The act of replacing action that is gender-determined through culture-it is make-up, it cleans the gun in place-it is make-up, it cleans the rifle-it is not able to change the cultural code or deconstruct the stereotype. This inversion only confuses the viewer, who sees the inadequacy of a person ending the action successfully. And the ineffectiveness of their actions arises from the inability to break out of the given gender conventions. This impossibility must be understood as an inability to leave the gender role, precisely because of the nature of gender identification that is externalized, and more so when it comes to women. Namely, as a woman as a woman is seen by the eye of the Other, an eye of a man who becomes an eye of culture and society, she does not have the potential to emerge from that identification. The key to reading a woman who cleans the rifle is the same as the key to reading a woman who is making lipsticks – through sexual connotation: she is and remains a sexual object. On the other hand, a man escapes desubjectivation, and when performing an atypical “male action”, he concludes only that he does not perform the action appropriately, that he simulates badly, while his subjectivity remains preserved – he is no less a man.
Therefore, the inversion that has been done in this work has not demolished gender roles and power relations, but has confirmed it. The man remains a man, the woman remains a woman. However, there is a certain asymmetry of this assertion, because although the participants remain in their predetermined meanings, doing in the case of a man is questioned as inadequate, while in the case of a woman it fits into the body of a wide spectrum of the act of a woman as a fetishized object of desire. Change of cultural stereotypes, or of society itself through art through “awareness raising” or “real change”, almost never happens, and it is not possible to measure the “efficiency of artistic messages” by their “realization”, since they do not possess the necessary conditions for such a realization. It can even be said that it is in the nature of an artistic performance to be unsuccessful. The cause of the failure of this, but also the majority of performing arts in the sphere of art, does not come from the distance of ideals (the destruction of gender stereotypes) and acts (actions that are opposed to stereotype), but the constitutive structure of articulation between political and cultural in every society. In the work I will be your mirror, therefore, performativity can not be declared act, which we would judge the terms of success / failure, but as an action, which finds its meaning in the process character of doing what makes visible socially determined power relations.
excerpt from the text “I Will Be Your Mirror” by Marija Ratkovic