Picasso’s Women was a reminder of how soul-crushing it is to try to fit into a frame others have created for you.The titular women of Picasso were defined solely in terms of their relationship to a man. They were known as his wives, his lovers, his muses, the mothers of his children. Picasso himself neatly defined them in his paintings, depicting some of them as beauties and others as hags (Dora Maar, one of his longtime lovers, was humiliated when Picasso showed an art dealer very private drawings he had done of her body. This was done very consciously on Picasso’s part, as a punishment, after their relationship had ended). The eight monologues dedicated to them in Picasso’s Women lets them speak in their own voices. Their wishes, their hopes, their convictions, their dreams and their disappointments, are just as rich as those of any other Great Man.
Agnes Nokshiqi and Donikë Ahmeti’s Girl With the Sun Over her Head dives into what happens to a person’s sense of self when they are constantly defined by external factors. The body becomes a source of pain, girlhood is misery, clothes become camouflage. The presence of a mirror throughout the performance is no coincidence. If the world is determined to turn one into something to be looked at, and not someone, you learn to experience yourself as something, too. In this narrative however, comfort is found in returning to the self, even if that self is bloodied and in pain.
The concept of self-objectification, of learning to see one’s self with an outsider’s eye, is a fascinating one. One study has shown that some women feel better about themselves when they feel they have been positively objectified. Their mood swings that occur when that positive attention is lacking, however, are extreme. There can be little authenticity in a life so contingent on the perceptions of others. Perhaps one of the most radical thing women can do is grant themselves the right to be ugly, the right to be ordinary, the right to live from the inside-out, instead of the other way around.