My Happiness Depends on You, Charlotte Ruppert & Johanna Maj Schmidt, 2021

MY HAPPINESS DEPENDS ON YOU

 

A short video based on My Happiness Depends On You was part of Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin for New Cinema and Contemporary Art 2021 (video archive). 

As a doubled figure inspired by Dolly Parton, the performers are sitting on a box with an inbuilt flatscreen. The screen shows a streaming video of a multiplayer online shooter game by Dr. Disrespect. Sitting above the gaming character, the two performers are wearing wedding gowns, wavy-blond long-haired wigs, eccentric makeup and have grotesquely big fake boobs (female monstrosity). They are holding begging bowls in their hands, which are usually used for the collection in churches. Once in a while, they are bleating “My happiness depends on you!” (from Dolly Parton’s song “Jolene”) hauntingly in chorus. In doing so they are starring into the eyes of one visitor each intensely/fury-like/expectantly. While the streaming video points to a potentially nostalgic desire for the Heroic, the two Dolly-figures put heroism as such into question. If the Heroic traditionally claims a singularity by the self-sacrifice of one individual, strong (man) for the sake of an ideology, a (feminist) response to the emphasis on the outstanding hero, would be a reversion to interdependence. Against this backdrop, the sentence “My happiness depends on you” could be seen, positively, as an anti-heroic preaching or, negatively, as voluntary submission. Thus, it hints at the ambivalent relationship between dependency and independency.

© Johanna Maj Schmidt 2021