Society Cut-Out 1
Society Cut-Out is an interactive performance, requiring the public to participate in the removal of the performer’s clothes. The model starts in a long plain dress, divided into 26 squares by a permanent marker. The performer then approaches the public, neutrally giving them the opportunity to cut-out a square from the dress, and thereby making the model vulnerable to the public’s actions. Society Cut-Out was first performed in November 2018 in a bar in London.
During a two hour period in a busy London bar the model only had 12 of the 26 squares removed. No-one seemed offended or refused to participate, but many were at first hesitant and didn’t seem to believe that it was ‘really ok’ for them to cut away the clothing. If the cuts
The performance started in a more secluded upstairs area before moving down to the main bar. After staff realised and asked us to cover up we moved back upstairs to finish the performance.
The cuts made were respectful, trying to preserve the performer’s dignity. As it became obvious that the performer was comfortable with the situation the cuts were made faster, with less reassurance to the public required. Although the performer’s bottom and breasts became exposed, this was mainly due to difficulties with the dress staying in place rather than explicitly exposing cuts made by the public. One cut which should have completely opened the dress on one side was actually split over two squares and so left the dress attached - it is thought this was a deliberate action on the part of the cutter so as not to expose the performer.
Eventually the performer removed the dress completely, as it kept falling down anyway. She then remained in the upstairs area of the bar talking to people for several minutes until management asked her to re-dress. This in itself was very interesting; a worker saw the performer naked and when questioned said that she herself didn’t mind, but that she’d need to let the manager know. Similarly the manager held a civil discussion with us, politely asking the model to re-dress and stating she didn’t mind but she couldn’t allow nudity in the public space. However, no-one in the public space seemed to mind either. So who are we enforcing these rules for and why?
When talking to the public most were positive about the performance. Some of them at first had thought it was pure exhibitionism, or just a very daring dress. However, as they’d talked to the performer they’d come to understand the reasons better. Several people commented that it was inspiring and thought-provoking, with a couple asking whether we thought the reaction would differ if performing in a different place or with a male performer.
The performer wasn’t proactively approached by people wanting to participate, and neither did we notice lots of people taking photos.
The performer stated afterwards that she felt much more comfortable once fully nude than she had when in the half-cut dress, as the latter felt sexualised to her. Before the performance she’d wanted to retain her hat, so it was interesting to see that once fully nude she removed this as well.