Marge Monko

Shaken Not Stirred

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CountryEstonia
Date2012
Medium/DimensionsHD video, 19' 40"
CreditsCourtesy of the artist
VenueCCA

Marge Monko’s Shaken Not Stirred is a powerful exploration of women’s roles and identifications in post-transitional New Europe, at a time when expectations have settled and are being replaced by self-questioning but also a measure of cynicism. Fusing conventional acting with stretches of Brechtian address (that is, when the actresses disrupt the engagement with their surroundings to speak directly to the spectator), the film presents two narratives: that of a sleek businesswoman and that of a cleaner whose appearance stands for her resignation into the fast growing class of the new poor.

Deploying sharp dialogue and contemplative monologue, both businesswoman and cleaner ultimately tell the same story: how capitalism has compromised, and even corrupted, women’s hopes of self-definition – a demand of 1970s feminism that now retains only a spectral presence. In Monko’s vision in this video, the promised land of empowerment and individual self-realisation has been delivered as a vacuous dream and a substantial nightmare by Estonia’s new economic system of alleged opportunity and privilege through competition. What these women have become, either as wealthy or poor, appears to be defined precisely by limited rather limitless choice.