Over and over again a man hits another man. With his back to the camera the abuser towers over seated victim who faces us, his eyes averted. Each time he is hit the force of his assailant’s blows throws him sideways. Each time he slowly recovers himself and returns to his seat, composed, awaiting –as we begin to – for the next assault.

The work is a performance recorded in real time so that while the victim’s enacted response to the blows is a fiction mimicking reality, it is also each time slightly different, his reaction slightly modulated, perhaps taking longer to regain his composure, perhaps compressing his lips, or breathing even more heavily,, while he swallow hard or winces.

Who are you entertaining to? in its implacable repetitions, produces a complex and ultimately terrifying representation of the experience of violent abuse as duration. It has neither a past nor a future, just the continuous present of the performance. It is interminable. If then, what I am seeing is a spectacle of trauma, how am I implicated as a watching and listening spectator?

Elizabeth Cowie

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