In “Cock, Cock..Who’s There?” Finnish artist, Samira Elagoz, invites the audience to attend the fifth anniversary of her rape. Not out of some strange need to celebrate it, but out of a need to acknowledge it. And to share with them her personal arts projects designed to help her come to terms with the experience, understand what motivates men, and find new ways of negotiating relationships with them. A short documentary with some direct input from Elagoz on stage, “Cock, Cock..Who’s There?” explores masculinity and the male gaze, intimacy and sexual connection, and the reactions of victim, friends, and family to one of the most horrific, if pervasive experiences imaginable.
Twice raped, on both occasions by someone she knew, Elagoz is not prepared to allow these experiences restrict her or define her as a woman, an artist, or as a sexual being. Instead she undertakes a series of video projects in which she contacts men, online at first, and later in person, in various parts of the world to better understand them. From these conversations and meetings Elagoz witnesses masculinity being acted out, seeks healing in a kiss, and sees friends and family respond in often unexpected ways when they become aware of her having being raped.
If “Cock, Cock..Who’s There?” positions Elagoz as a documentarian, her camera is never a neutral observer of all it surveys. Rather Elagoz uses it to craft and frame her own artistic response, which includes some psychedelic imagery to You Don’t Own Me, sped up images, as well as some smart editing of her various encounters. The results, visually, are often stunning and surprising. A wonderful sequence that challenges the notion Elagoz was asking for it because of how she dresses, gazes, pouts, or flirts proves particularly potent. Yet most potent of all are the reactions. Not just from friends and family, but from Elagoz herself. Searingly honest, Elagoz’s interrogations pull no punches, and often challenge conventional expectations of how we respond to rape.
It could be argued that as the bulk of “Cock, Cock..Who’s There?” is comprised of a documentary projected onto the back wall that there's very little need for Elagoz on stage. Indeed her function seems to be to set up, and occasionally clarify, what’s on screen. Something that could arguably be worked in to the documentary itself, allowing it to reach an even wider audience via television or online. Granted, having Elagoz live in the space creates an additional level of immediacy. And one can only speculate on the importance the presence of an audience has for Elagoz. Either way, “Cock, Cock..Who’s There?” celebrates Elagoz as an artist, and as a women, who refuses to be defined, or limited, by rape, by her own reactions to it, or by the reactions of others. Including, quite possibly, yours.
“Cock, Cock..Who’s There?” by Samira Elagoz, runs at The Project Arts Centre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2018 until September 15
For more information, visit The Project Arts Centre or Dublin Fringe Festival 2018