Expectations. Role playing and acting are often predestined by our expectations of how men and women act in certain situations, under certain kinds of pressure and when threatened. An important aspect of Stine Marie Jacobsen’s artistic praxis is challenging the stereotypical behavior of female and male actors. In the video Do you have time to kill me today? shot in L.A. (2007), the artist acts the part of a blonde driver who is constantly attacked by an elderly man (in reality her neighbor) from the backseat. However she is oblivious to his – clearly staged – attempts to cut her throat. She keeps driving and the fake blood just drips down her throat.
In this project, the artist’s interest in directly reworking the normalized scripts of popular fiction, gender, victim and perpetrator roles is clearly defined for the first time. The project also includes a handmade drawing by a formula-fiction illustrator (commissioned by the artist) of the two actors as normal people, as well as a Reader’s Digest-style short story.
Almost as an empirical test of the underlying narratives of popular culture and how typical gender, victim and perpetrator roles are reinstated, the artist brings the script of the film to Hjemmet, a Reader’s Digest-type magazine in Denmark and asks their short story writer to finish the story. The commissioned author and illustrator develop the story and images.
After the young woman, the artist, is repeatedly attacked by a man hiding in the backseat while she is driving, she arrives at her home, where a drug addict has broken in. Although it was implied that the man in the car was carrying out revenge, he ends up saving her from the burglar. Or re-victimizing her. As an installation and narrative, Do you have time to kill me today? meanders between reality and fiction, cruelty and victimization.
The project lays a base for the artist’s continuous interest in existing fiction and media scripts and how we as audience can walk in and out of these amid the backdrop of reality. Another project that picks up in these threads is Direct Approach.
“When she abruptly woke up, she didn’t believe she had slept. But the green numbers on the alarm clock said something different. 02.43. She was tense as a feather and listened. Why had she awakened? Maybe it was just a dream. Or rather a nightmare. But then she heard a slight scratching sound and realized that it was the sound that had awakened her. Someone was moving around in the dark apartment. Kirk. In an instant, she was suddenly sure that it was him. That he had broken in to live out his role completely. Horror caused her to sweat and freeze at the same time. She strained her ears to determine where he was in the apartment. She could also sense an unusual odor that had not been there when she went to sleep – the smell of car exhaust and wet asphalt. She could also hear the sounds of the traffic outside a little more clearly. He must have broken in through the window. What was he doing? It sounded as if he was still inside the room, as if he were looking through her things. Perhaps he was going to steal the movie, so they would have to continue filming.”
(Excerpt from Hjemmet crime story ‘’Rolleskift’ (Role Shift))