Milano, 1978

Shut Up, Actualy Talk (performance, dOCUMENTA(13), Auepark) | 2012 EV

Shut Up, Actualy Talk (performance, dOCUMENTA(13), Auepark), 2012 EV
approx. 30'
Foto: A. Cillari
Courtesy: the artist and dOCUMENTA(13)

Shut Up, Actually Talk is a performance featuring the nineteen century freakshow performer Zalumma Agra in the Moral Exhibition House of dOCUMENTA(13) in Karlsaue Park.


Back in the XIX century, Zalumma was a platform performer invented by her manager P.T. Barnum: a so-called 'Circassian beauty', or 'Star of the East' for his moral exhibitions. At the time, Circassian beauties were indeed fictional exotic characters. They were common young western women presented in the moral exhibitions as former slaves coming from the East, after being been rescued by a show entrepeneur.


In order to look more freaky and unfamiliar, Circassian beauties were chosen among very pale woman and exhibited wearing an extraordinary fake afro wigs on their head. The other peculiarity of Circassians was their silence. In order to let them look unfamiliar they had to keep silence during the exhibition, and this trick was needed to avoid that spectators would recognise their native language and understand they were just fake. This type of freak show, with a silent person sitting in a room, was called 'platform performance'.


After 150 years of silence, Zalumma Agra appeared in the dreams of Chiara Fumai while she was on her way to Kassel. The artist, impressed by her look and her incapability to formulate sentences decided to take her to dOCUMENTA(13) and let her speak up the most beautiful words she ever read: I Say I (Io dico Io), Second Manifesto of the 70s Italian movement Rivolta Femminile (Female Revolt), written by the Italian phiiosopher Carla Lonzi. 

This strange combination is indeed very precise. According to the artist (and a lot of other people in the world), the message and the alphabet of Rivolta Femminile had been really underevaluated. Shut Up, Actually Talk was staged every friday and saturday in the Moral Exhibition House of Karlsaue Park, at dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel.


There is no public documentation of Zalumma's perfect diabolicalness inside and outside the Moral Exhibition House during her speeches. Some echoes can be found in other works by the artist, such as a red mirror video with the same title 'Shut Up, Actually Talk'. After documenta, Zalumma Agra has been involved in many other performances, lectures and projects by the artist and she keeps retelling the same words.

Ladies, prepare your saltz...













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