Metaphors We Die By

“Metaphors We Die By”

poems and idea of the performance by Volha Hapeyeva
music and video by DJ Buben, Nasta Labada


Premier – 26 Oct.2019, ETA Hoffmann Theater, Bamberg (Germany)
in the framework of the Schamrock Festival


The music and video start. Intro. Then the poet comes to the stage, bringing a box onto the stage.
She reads a poem, then comes to the box and takes from it a class with black paint and a brush, as well as the first object.
After each poem the poet takes a certain object from the box and paints it in black, leaving it lying on a leaf of the recited poem on the table, covered with black table-cloth.
The list of the poems and objects:
1. He bought her a dress – OBJECT: a skein of white threads
2. Once I met a man – OBJECT: an onion
3. Violet – OBJECT: a clock
4. Drink my girl drink – OBJECT: an egg
5. Black Apple-tree – OBJECT: an apple

The last object the poet takes from the box is a knife. She puts it on the table and stands for a couple of minutes looking at the table with all the objects on it. Then the music stops and the black-out comes.

The end.


Five objects, used in the performance, act as metaphors of different aspect of life of a poet, in particular and that of a woman in general.

All five objects are of a round or ellipse shape, which symbolizes the female side, as this shape is traditionally associated with women. The last object to appear of the table is a knife, which symbolizes aggression and violence usually represented by males. Though we do not see anything violent happening during the performance. The knife just lies there, as if only leading to the idea of violence, or power, that it is always there, ready to attack any moment.

The other meaning here is linguistic and concerns the fact how we deal with objects and words that represent them. The process of writing (a knife can be here the substitution of a pen) is like painting all with non-transparent black paint. Turning unique object into black shapes, viz. letters on the paper. Language is often seen as a patriarchal instrument. The title itself if an allusion to the work of G. Lakoff “Metaphors we live by”.