A girl raised as a boy. A boy trained to act as a girl. A writer and activist in exile. An authoritative male. These are the four characters through whom Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen addresses the complexities of gender in cultures where men and women are segregated — and masculinity rules.
Through photographs, sculpture, video, song, costume and performance, Cuenca explores the fragile structure of political hegemony and patriarchal domination. Her premise: When sexuality is repressed, new constructions of gender develop. The title refers both to the long-haired dog breed (the artist uses hair in extreme exaggeration throughout the work) and to Afghanistan (the male-dominated culture from which her characters are drawn).
The Afghan Hound performance includes four impersonations of voices from Afghanistan. The four stories that unfold are recounted through music and song. The choreography is contingent upon a costume made out of hair, metaphorically symbolizing different sexualities that are hidden in the particular context of contemporary Afghan culture.
Cuenca purposely inhabits the role of an impersonator. The artist has stated: “My position as an artist and impersonator is to be a mouthpiece for repressed voices that I find urgent to unveil. The Western discourse on the Arabic World is often reduced to our positioning of them. I have tried to communicate stories seen from their tradition and culture, which in my opinion is important to try to understand, before we interfere or judge.”
Taking her own Danish-Filipino background as a point of departure, Cuenca universalizes cultural narratives in a critical and humorous approach to issues such as identity, religion, gender and social relations.
Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen, was born in 1970 in Manila (Philippines) and now lives in Copenhagen (DK). She has graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. She has participated in numerous exhibitions worldwide, including: Performa 09 (NY, USA), The Thessaloniki Biennial of Contemporary Art (GR), Tate Modern (UK), Brooklyn Museum (NY, USA), Rauma Balticum Biennal (FI), Busan Biennial (South Korea). In 2011, she participated in the exhibition Speech Matters at The Danish Pavilion, for the 54th Venice Biennale (IT). Afghan Hound is Cuenca's first exhibition at Christian Larsen.