A performance by Sarafina Paulina Bonita and Venla Miila Kaarina

/mɑːm, mam,məm/
noun; A term of respectful or polite address used for a woman.

Since at least the late 1600s, ma’am – a contraction of “madame” – has been a formal way to address a woman of superior social status. It has been used alongside many other words to establish social hierarchy. Today, ma’am (in Dutch, mevrouw) is still widely used as a way to refer or address a not familiar woman. In our everyday vocabulary, ma’am exists as an unmarked normative position. It is an (in)visible way to keep the gender-binary in our spoken and written language intact. The performance Dont Call Me Ma’am reveals the violent layers of the word ma’am and the effects on those who do not identify with it and thus remain invisible.

Sarafina Paulina Bonita (they/them) is a queer Surinamese-Dutch performance artist who works with language, translation, gender codes, and racial biases. They create performances and poetry from an intersectional approach that focuses on the experience of otherness.

Venla Miila Kaarina (she/her) is a Finnish architect and dancer who studies space from a feminist perspective as a constantly changing, living entity. She works with topics such as play, translation, and choreography. She creates performances, workshops, and spaces through movement and design.

This performance is part of the exhibition Worlds between Words.

About IRL

Our lives are dominated by the self-produced realities that we encounter on the internet and social media. This tension between fact and fiction touches upon the core of our leitmotiv IN REAL LIFE. The only way to escape the post-truth is to meet each other in real life. We facilitate these meetings in the form of readings, lectures, masterclasses, workshops, excursions and parties that tangibly express the ideas behind HOME | IN REAL LIFE | NETWORKS.


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