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Afghan Hound – the words from an art performance

 
Lilibeth Cuenca
Lilibeth Cuenca
Afghan Hound (2011) is the name of an art performance, staged at the opening of the 2011 Venice Biennale culture festival. KVINFO here publishes the text of the songs sung during the performance with permission from the performance artist, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen. But the whole performance entails much more than just words – it could be described as a hybrid between singing, dancing, recitation, monologue and mimicking – all evolving around the active use of an impressive, wig-like costume and a stick functioning as a paraphrased dance partner. The use of hair itself was inspired by the tradition of Afghan hound racing.

Afghan Hound includes four impersonations of voices from Afghanistan. The work addresses the complexities of gender in cultures where men and women are segregated, and masculinity rules. It also explores how, when sexuality is repressed, new gender constructions develop beyond the traditions of a given society and culture. The transformation of genders and characters takes place through the use of the costume, symbolizing different sexualities and identities. 

Afghan Hound brings to the fore repressed voices, but also attempts to communicate stories from within Afghan tradition and culture by challenging the often stereotypical, and sometimes reductive, western discourse on the eastern world.

1.Song: Malalai Joya

The lyrics of the first song employs quotes from the Afghan activist, writer and politician in exile, Malalai Joya.
 
Drop by drop a river is formed…
Dust has been thrown in the eyes of the world
I was exploited as a symbol of peace
Nothing has changed our unease will increase 
Refrain: 
Don’t stop a donkey that isn’t yours
You’re handing over arms to the wrong boys
Same donkey with a new saddle
Keep your distance: We must fight our own battle 

2. Alias - I am not what you see
Everything is secret about me 
Days and years of hide and seek-ness
No way can I reveal my weakness
Refrain: 
Don’t stop a donkey that isn’t yours
You’re handing over arms to the wrong boys
Same donkey with a new saddle
Keep your distance: We must fight our own battle
 
3. My man and I are never alone
Each night we sleep in a different home
Dependent on the kindness of strangers
Who try to keep us out of danger
Refrain: 

4. The silence of good people is much worse
Than the violent laws they try and enforce
One flower doesn’t bring spring
I will fight until I hear my people sing
Refrain: 
Don’t stop a donkey that isn’t yours
Handing over arms to the wrong boys
Same donkey with a different saddle
Keep your distance: We must fight our own battle
 

2. Song: I Will Never Leave the Power (Ding Dong)

This song revolves around powerful male speech and masculine authority. 
 
Your Western eyes
Judging! Preaching! About Human Rights
You choose which conflicts you want to see
Your sympathy and aid are never for free 
 
1. Your leaders pay me to dictate
You and I have agreed on this trade 
To access cheap labour, oil and petrol
Keeping us in debt and under your control
 
It’s  happy hour, double up 
I will never leave the power, huh! 
It’s  happy hour, double up
I will never leave the power, huh!
 
2. Ideas of liberty could land me in jail 
My ideologies are fully for sale
My political choice - support the authority 
Or wind up as a refugee 
 
Your Western eyes
Judging! Preaching! about Womens Rights
You chose which conflicts you want to see
Your sympathy and aid –they’re never for free
 
3. It’s the balance of Nature that I keep
For each life I take I plant a new seed
I kill and I rape without debate
This is part of the deal that we made remember?
 
Your Western eyes
Judging,! Preaching! about Womens Rights
You chose which conflicts you want to see
Your sympathy and aid are not ever for free
 
4. Female company is too complex
I prefer a boy when I need sex
Women are useless whores
Only of use when they breed boys 
 
Your Western eyes
Judging! Preaching! about Womens Rights
You chose which conflicts you want to see
Your sympathy and aid are never for free
 
5. You can trash your illusions about equality
Even nature is based upon hierarchy
Economy (is what) determines “Democracy”
Now -that’s what I call hypocrisy
 
Your Western eyes
Judging! Preaching! About Human Rights
You choose which conflicts you want to see
Your sympathy and aid are never for free
 
It is happy hour, double up
I will never leave the power, huh
It is happy hour, double up
I will never leave the power!
 

3. Sang: The Dance is my Chance

This song tells the tale of a Bacha Bazi, (a young boy trained to act as a girl, who dances at men’s parties but is also a sex slave). 
 
Intro: 
The power of sex
Makes the master
A slave to his slave
 
Horny men
Can’t get enough
A brutish smell
When I ring my bell
 
Wonder Toy
Wonder boy
Wonder girl
Is a wonderful boy
 
To play with a boy
Gives him pleasure and joy
Pleasure and joy
To play with a boy
 
Putting men into a trance
The girly dance
Is my only chance
 
The power of sex
Makes the master
A slave to his slave
 
Boy boy boy
Girl girl girl
Boy- girl- boy
Body no cares
 
Freedom for a slave 
Equals the grave 
 
Wonder toy
Wonder boy
Wonder girl
Is a wonderful boy
 
To play with a boy
Gives him pleasure and joy
Pleasure and joy
To play with a boy
 
Putting men into a trance
The girly dance
Is my only chance
 
Boy boy boy
Girl girl girl
Boy- girl- boy
Body no cares
 
Reaching puberty at the great cost
Of a masculinity already lost
My next obstructions
The streets or marriage -are my only options
 
Boy boy boy
Girl girl girl
Boy- girl- boy
Body no cares
 
Wonder Toy
Wonder boy
Wonder girl
Is a wonderful boy
 
To play with a boy
Gives him pleasure and joy
Pleasure and joy
To play with a boy
 
If I stay with my master
I marry his daughter
If I bring them boys, I am safe
But remain forever his slave
 

4. Song: Dead woman walking

This song features a former Bacha Posh (a girl raised as a boy, when there are no sons in the family). 
 
1. My first tomb 
Was my mother’s womb
Then came my groom
Then the nuptial room
Followed by the baby boom 
Boom Boom
 
2. Until my teens my days were mad 
Forced by family to act as a lad 
Behind the clothes I could hide their shame
In becoming a woman I was their burden again 
Refrain:
I am young and I want to live
But I am not afraid of death
Killing me over and over
Each time I grow fearless, bolder 
 
3. The taste of independence was sweet
This adaptation brings/gives me grief
Men are doped by war and drugs
Taking a woman’s life is like killing a bug
 
Refrain: 
4. The up to the minute craze 
Women setting their bodies ablaze 
A live woman has no choice
But a dead body might be given voice
 
Refrain:
5. Drop by drop a river is formed
Dust has been thrown in the eyes of the world
I was exploited as a symbol of peace
But nothing has changed, our unease will increase
 
Don’t stop a donkey that isn’t yours
You’re handing over arms to the wrong boys
It´s the same donkey with a new saddle
Remove your troops: We must fight our own battle 
 
 
Facts

Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen works primarily with performance to explore a variety of issues such as gender, identity, socio-cultural relations, as well as questions of home and belonging. Her work explores how the self is constructed, examining the differences that are inherent in the male-female role-play. Rasmussen’s productions often involve scripted texts and songs, composed music, choreography as well as precisely articulated visual elements such as specially designed costumes. 

Visit Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen’s website

Read more about the Venice Biennale 2011

Read more about the Danish pavilion at the Biennale

Watch other performances by Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen

 

 

 



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