1st version of "My Happiness Depends on You", Charlotte Ruppert & Johanna Maj Schmidt, 2019
MY HAPPINESS DEPENDS ON YOU
As a doubled figure inspired by Dolly Parton, the performers are sitting on a huge box with an inbuilt flatscreen. The screen shows a game streaming video of DrDisrespect, who is playing “Call of Duty” with gamer Nickmercs. Sitting above them, the two performers are wearing wedding gowns, wavy-blond long-haired wigs, eccentric makeup and have grotesquely big fake boobs (aka female monstrosity). They are holding begging bowls in their hands, which are usually used in churches for the collection. Once in a while they are bleating “My happiness depends on you!” (from Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”) hauntingly in chorus. In doing so they are starring into the eyes of one visitor each intensely/fury-like/expectantly.
Charlotte Ruppert’s and Johanna Maj Schmidt’s performance “My Happiness Depends on You” was part of the exhibition “1937-2017 Von Entarteter Kunst zu Entstellter Kunst” (From Degenerate Art to Deformed/Defaced Art: https://www.hgb-leipzig.de/einrichtungen/galerie/galerie-archiv/2019vonentarteterkunstzuentstellterkunst) at HGB gallery in 2019. After performing in this context, they continued to refine their work and decided to include a game streaming video as a pseudo-heroic antipole to the Dolly figures. Their piece comments on heroic expressions that are adapted from physical war in virtual combat. If the Heroic traditionally claims some sort of singularity by the self-sacrifice of one single, strong (man) for the sake of an ideology, a (feminist) response to the emphasis on the outstanding hero, would be a reversion to interdependence. So, the sentence “My happiness depends on you” could be seen, positively, as an anti-heroic preaching or, negatively, as voluntary submission. So, the sentence “My happiness depends on you” hints at the ambiguous relationship between dependency and independency.