The needed change is so profound that we call it impossible, so deep that we call it unthinkable. But the impossible will come and the unthinkable is inevitable. –Feminism Is Not Humanism, P.B. Preciado
MDLSX is an 80-minute performance/monologue/ DJ set performed by the award-winning actress Silvia Calderoni and directed by Motus founders, Enrico Casagrande and Daniela Nicolo. Weaving autobiography and literary evocations Silvia Calderoni blurs fiction and reality, as she swings from Judith Butlerʼ works, Gender Trouble and Undoing Gender, to Donna Haraway’s, A Cyborg Manifesto, Paul B. Preciado’s Manifeste Contra-sexuel and other bits of the kaleidoscopic universe of queer.
If MIKA and Marilyn Manson were to copulate, their offspring would surely resemble MDLSX, a gender-fluid artist born light years ahead of our time. The theatrical experience was second only to Silvia Calderoni’s raw and risky performance. The stage direction and lighting created a hypnotic journey that enveloped the space, the use of the hand-held camera was both provocative and intimate but at times it created a wall making it harder to empathize during some of the more intimate moments.
At its core this is a beautiful and profoundly moving story about the experience of being born both genders but being forced to live out one or the other. The experience was intellectually challenging with many moments that moved me to tears. MDLSX is rich with symbolism reminding us that our culture is still heavily defined by antiquated notions of gender, binary distinctions and false notions of fixed sexualities. Institutions still own our bodies, not us.
An angst-fuelled music selection covering adroginst legends like The Smiths, Dresden Dolls and The Cramps, Sylvia does much of her own lighting and sound, and despite some of the obvious line-reading her stage presence was down-right mesmerizing. The show culminates by holding a metaphorical mirror up to the audience in order to silently pose the question, did Sylvia create a spectacle that we felt compelled to watch or are we watching because it satisfies our deeper, voyeristic desires.
What if we change the name of this performance to something more empowering such as 3RDSX. As long as we continue to define ourselves based on heterosexual notions of sexuality (male/female) we are doomed to forever spend our in-between days in stuck purgatory by our our design. Like the word queer, we have an opportunity to take back our bodies and define ourselves as something completely new, filled with the possibility of the unknown. Defining ourselves based on the existing heteronormative culture makes us, as Mika would say, Stuck In The Middle, when what we could be is The Beautiful People in Marilyn Manson’s universe; people that no one controls. It’s all here for us as soon as we unhinge from the culture we’ve grown accustomed to. Go see MDLSX, it might change the way to think about your own gender.
Follow Raymond Helkio on Twitter: @raymondhelkio