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Don't be stupid

Don’t be stupid by Cecilia Parsberg is part of the Magasin III collection and consists of two films: a main film (3:22 min, loop) screened in the atrium and an accompanying film (20 sec, loop) screened in the staircase behind the auditorium.It is screened at SSE between Sept 21 and October 18.


Power and powerlessness - action is the initiation of force. The relationship between a woman and a man should reflect a politics that can take place both on a private and public level. Cecilia Parsberg

Parsberg’s documentary and research-basedwork deals with power dynamics in relationships and is often in clear respond to current, pressing issues. In recent years, she has created several public works addressing structural powerlessness in political relationships, shedding light on contemporary Swedish society.

During the late 1990s, Parsberg was part of an experimental art scene that dealt with questions about the significance of images, the body, and power. Don’t be stupid (1997) is documented performance filmed from above, where a naked woman frantically strikes a naked man in a boxing ring. The woman continues to strike until she falls to the ground. The woman’s blows to the man can be juxtaposed to a structural fight against the prevailing view on gender. The outcome of the boxing match, with the woman exhaustedly collapsing, can be seen as inevitable as the struggle against the patriarchal gaze is destined to be lost. Regardless of the 26 years that has passed since 1997, there is a strong affinity between the subject matter and today’s post-Metoo political climate.

Text: Sofia Ringstedt, curator of the filmprogram Borderland - where outer and inner meet - a collaboration between Magasin III and Art Initiative.

Cecilia Parsberg was born in 1963 in Hässleholm, Sweden. She lives and works in Stockholm.

The man in the performance says: 

Woman kicks man’s ass. To me it would seem more natural with the roles turned around, a man punching a woman. Then I would sympathize with the woman. I would probably see the video as an image of women’s relation to men in general. I can easily sympathize with the woman when she’s the one wearing the boxing gloves. With the woman fighting it’s so obvious to me, as a man, how lonesome her struggle is. She doesn’t let the man in. This is not the picture of a relationship, rather it reflects the fight of a single individual. I’ve always believed that the relationship between man and woman in our society was the concern of both. Why does it seem so clear to me in this case, that it’s all about one individual woman struggling with herself. Is this the kind of one-sided struggle that patriarchy is built to hold and maintain? The woman spends all her energy on her fight. What happens to the man – nothing? There is no room left for him. And in our society-where is the deliverance of women made passive by someone else’s fight. Men struggling, leaving no room for women. What happens to women-nothing? Should you implode or explode? It’s a man’s world, in which both men and women live. But society is no relationship – it’s a one-sided struggle for survival and self-development – man against nature – men against women!