19th Biennale of Sydney, 2014
Photography by: Rasa Juškevičiūtė,
In Eglė Budvytytė’s mobile performance Choreography for the Running Male (2014), a group of men jog a route through the city of Sydney. As they trace a path in unison, they carry out choreographed gestures relating to emotions ranging from shame to seduction, along with sequences referencing militaristic action. Here they hide their faces in the folds of their clothing; there they sit daintily, hold hands or crawl through the grass. The work investigates notions of socialised behaviour that infiltrate public consciousness and, as an extension, public space.
Coming from a country with a history of Soviet occupation, Budvytytė’s piece, with its uniform choreography and sound of marching feet, inevitably speaks to mechanisms of social control. Using the idea of overt emotion, Budvytytė explores the flow-on effect when gendered bodies begin to act beyond expectation. Her cluster of men resembles an army unit or a small mob, but their gestures are poetry in motion and subvert any sense of menace or danger. The work highlights our socialisation around emotional expression, which instils the conceit that men are connected more with the physical body, and women with the heart, or the emotions. Choreography for the Running Male gives credence to the notion that so-called masculinity and femininity are not innate to particular bodies but are in fact performances of a kind, made up of a collection of repeated gestures that reinforce a gender identity. The piece plays with the idea of machismo, pairing it with a public vulnerability and a balletic beauty.
The voice of the Female Ally that was broadcast as the men sat still in the little square: