Cock Cock Who’s There?

2020 Adelaide Arts Festival Review

I’m not always uncomfortable with certain therapy being used as art. Now I want to be clear that art as therapy is one thing, but when your therapy is turned around to look like your art that is another thing.

Cock Cock Who’s There? is a video theatre piece by Samira Elagoz and was conceived on the first anniversary of her rape by her then boyfriend. At 2020 Adelaide Arts Festival it is her sixth anniversary and she begins wishing us all a ‘happy anniversary’. Clearly this is a sarcastic remark, as the audience uncomfortably laughs.

But back to her first anniversary and she starts this project by asking close family and friends to reflect on her rape. My first impression is this is a brave thing to do, so many carry the shame of rape that to openly ask your friends to reflect on it is bold. This reflection is the first video piece in this exploration of Samira’s healing. While you expect sympathy that’s not what you get from her peers. One is indifferent, one is jovial and one borders on victim blaming. Only her mother and grandmother are compassionate and self-reflective.

While this part of her video project is to test their thoughts on rape, I found it provokes more of a question around who takes responsibility for your pain? Turning to her friends to reflect on her trauma you would think evokes a sense empathy or rage, but they instead distance themselves leaving me to reflect on the taboo and shame we hold for those who have experienced rape.

As Samira starts to have sex again she starts the next phase of the experiment (or therapy) where she wants to turn the lens on men and gain an understanding of how they relate to her sexually. This is done first by going on to an online app and asking men to send her video profiles. It then moves to Craiglist where she advertises she wants to date men and document it all with her camera.

This part of her ‘experiment’ reveals an intriguing side to these men where they want to seduce, impress and dominate her in one way or another. Now with this part she met men of all classes, ages and nationalities. While there was risk involved she did set up some safeguards; someone always knew where she was and she would always be filming. For me personally that would not have been enough, and it was at this point I thought is this really an ‘experiment’ or just testing her boundaries to show herself that despite her rape, she was still a liberated woman?

Each video was connected with a monologue from Samira where she is detailing her personal journey and how this project was fitting in to it.

Well, then on to the next video and this was a series of Tinder dates where it was all based around the first kiss. Most notably here instead of a promise of intimacy, she would be intimate and they were good looking young men.

Now I am a few decades older than Samira and watched this piece as an exploration around sexuality and violation from a woman who is part of a generation that refuses slut or victim shaming. However this work really was therapeutic but I’m not sure if it was art.

Regardless, I don’t think it was shown to the right audience. The Adelaide Arts Festival audience is largely older boomers. Would they have seen this as a protest piece against violation and dichotomy of the sexes. Possibly not. Instead of seeing this as a young woman provoking a conversation about sex and sexuality they would have judged her, possibly blamed her and seen her choices as risky. That was my greatest fear from this work.