Cut the World by Antony and the Johnsons
This week a simple and quiet music video hit the Internet that I seriously believe will change the way we look at women -- or at least scare the living bejesus out of all men in the workplace. But in a good way.
Cult favorite Antony and the Johnsons has just debuted their previously unreleased track and video for Cut the World, which was originally written for the opera The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic. The video features actress Carice Van Houten (Game of Thrones / Valkyrie), the incomparable actor Willem Defoe, and a haunting and poignant cameo by performance artist, Marina Abramovic.
The video was directed by the enigmatic Australian born director Nabil Elderkin. NABIL has worked with everyone from Kanye West to Bon Iver, as well as superstar in the making, Mr. Frank Ocean. But for his new video collaboration the director takes a much darker turn towards the splendid and the macabre.
Cut the World is one of those rare performance art meets music videos that comes with a warning pregnant with purpose and pause beyond its seemingly standard verbiage, "This video may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised."
I will admit, the first time I watched this video I just sat there with my mouth wide open. However on the second pass, I literally stood up and starting clapping, as well as screaming, Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! But I will also be the first to admit -- I'm a little twisted in that way. Things didn't really get interesting until I clicked on to YouTube's Pitchfork.tv where I began reading some of the comments. I quickly realized I wasn't alone in my very strong and stirring feelings for this groundbreaking video. One of my favorite comments came from @chrismail (Christopher Vågnes): "The end of the patriarchal systems of governance encapsulated in one music video... WOW."
Actress - Carice Van Houten / Actor - Willem Dafoe
Violence and bloodshed aside, there is something about the overarching theme of this video that leaves one in a pensive and agitated state asking, How did we get here? And where are we headed?"
To get to the root of this question, I believe lead singer and conceptual artist Antony Hegarty has perhaps began a truly prolific movement and dialogue under the banner: Future Feminism. In a recent audio presentation, Antony describes his notion of Future Feminism:
Antony goes on to say:
"It's a very indigenous idea that the Earth is a female, that the Earth menstruates, that the water of the world is the blood of a woman's body and that's what we crawled out of just in the same way that we crawled out of our mother's wombs. It's the most basic idea; any child could come up with it and it's so obvious."
"It might sound far-fetched, but if you look at your own beliefs, just imagine how quickly you accepted the idea that the ocean is rising and the ecology of our world is collapsing. We can actually imagine that more readily than we can imagine a switch from patriarchal to matriarchal systems of governance -- a subtle shift in the way our society works."
Performance Artist - Marina Abramovic
No matter what we believe, the concept of Future Feminism has really kick started an amazing and modern dialogue which will continue this week in London during the Meltdown Festival curated by Mr. Hagerty. During the festivities, Mr. Hagerty has challenged his friend and collaborator Marina Abramovic to host a lecture and panel discussion for women only. This will be a first for Ms. Abramovic who has never actually framed her work around her feminine identity and instead has always felt her work was beyond gender. However, after the release of Cut the World, we can see so many of Marina's complicated and multifaceted influences in this video piece: passivity and endurance/bleeding and cruelty.
After watching the video on repeat, there is something about its poignant lyrics that should make us all pay closer attention to the women in our lives -- especially those walking towards us carrying metaphoric knives: "For so long I've obeyed that feminine decree, I've always contained your desire to hurt me... But when will I turn and cut the world?"
All video snapshots/photos courtesy of Pitchfork.tv