Sanctum I (2009) is a screendance, that reveals & amplifies the emotional and kinaesthetic struggle of silenced, yet complicit women, bound by the cultural practice of FGM or female genital mutilation. It was inspired by the autobiography, Desert Flower written by Waris Dirie (1998), a Somalian model, social activist, author and a UN Special Ambassador (1997-2003) against FGM.
FGM, is a Human Rights issue and is deemed by most Western and African countries, a crime and no longer an acceptable cultural practice. To date, the WHO organisation has estimated that over 200 million young girls have been circumcised and despite the practise being banned and outmoded in many North African countries, it is still ongoing. The practice has spread out across the globe and regardless of attempts by FGM activists, such as Dirie, spokesperson for Women’s Rights, to speak out against it, it is still deemed a necessary cultural practice by a few cultures in countries around the world.
Appalled with these statistics and Dirie’s excruciating personal experience and account of FGM, that she suffered at the hands of the female elders of her nomadic tribe, age 5, I decided to choreograph and direct a live performance about this heinous crime. Here a dancer performs in a long white cloth, that tightly binds her entire body, restricting all her movements. Her feet are tied up with string and sticks gag her mouth, demonstrating not only a dance of restriction and struggle but also how the victim of FGM is tied up and bound. Later I created a Screendance where I directed and edited two Screendance versions Sanctum I and II.
In sanctum I, I used the notion of a “carnivorous camera” with a carnal appetite to penetrate, like a predator, the personal space of the dancer, to capture her pain and real struggle, to devour, draw out and pull through the camera and into edit, the emotional, fleshy and kinaesthetic qualities of the struggling body onto the screen. I wanted the camera to capture the visceral, the emotional, the neural, the sensorial, the muscular and the proprioceptive qualities that the dancer was truly experiencing. This “carnivorous camera” attempts to affect and connect the audience’s own visceral, physical and emotional body to the powerful moving imagery on the screen in front of them. Through this predator like process, Sanctum I attempts to elicit empathic responses from the viewer to this Human Rights issue, by revealing imagery, that is affective, embodied, concrete and experiential.
Sanctum I has been screened at many Screendance festivals, Film Institutes and Conferences around the world. Financial assistance was provided by the National Arts Council (South Africa).
Direction & edit Jeannette Ginslov
Concept Jeannette Ginslov
Music James Webb
Dancer Vishanthi Arumugam
Choreography Jeannette Ginslov in collaboration with Vishathi Arumugam
Cameras Emma-J Alexander, Donald Tolmie, Vilte Vaitkute
Lighting Vilte Vaitkute
Set design & costume Jeannette Ginslov
Location for video White Space, Time Based Art Studios, University of Dundee, Scotland
Format: Shot on HDV PAL
Video & stage work produced by Walking Gusto Productions - multimedia dance theatre
Copyright Walking Gusto Productions 2009
1) National Review of Live Art – 13 February 2009, Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland
2) Montage video dance festival - 07 March 2009, FNB Dance Umbrella, Johannesburg
3) JOMBA! Contemporaty Dance Festival 28 & 29 April 2009, Sneddon Theatre, Durban
4) Moves09 Africa! International Festival of Movement on Screen - 27 April 2009, Manchester & UK
5) Baltoppen Theatre looped on TV Monitor in Foyer – Ballerup, Denmark
6) DANCE:FILM 09 Filmhouse, Dance with Camera, Filmhouse , 23rd May 2009 13.30 Edinburgh, Scotland
7) Jomba! 28 & 29 April 2009, Sneddon Theatre, Durban, South Africa
8) National Arts Festival, 09 July 2009 – Olive Schreiner Building, Grahamstown, S Africa
9) Africa in Motion film estival, Edinburgh African Film Festival, Thu 29 Oct, Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh, Scotland, Lauriston Place, Main Lecture Theatre
10) Danish Film Institute for Dansens Dage at Cinemateket, Gothersgade 55, Copenhagen, Denmark. 29 April 2010
11)British Film Institute, South Bank - South African Cinema at the BFI South Bank, London, UK, 08 May 2010
12) PLArTFORMA Klaipeda, Lithuania the middle of September 2010
13) GIPCA & Baxter Dance and Film Festival. Cape Town July 2012
14) ACCRA [dot] ALT The 5th Annual CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival, James Town, Accra Ghana. August 22 -23, 2015
15) Bodily Undoing: Somatic Activism and Performance Cultures as Practices of Critique. 16-17 Sept 2017 Bath Spa University.