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  • Joan Rang Christensen

Part Two: Death

Death is white.

Virginia says: "In addition to the images of other people’s lives and consciousness—these biographies and stories—there are also other pictures—pictures of current events, photographs. Photographs are, of course, not arguments that appeal to one’s reasonable sense, they are simply a finding of the facts, addressed to the eye. […] Then let’s see, if we feel the same, when we look at the same photographs. Here, we have some photographs on the table in front of us. The Spanish government sends them a couple of times a week with a stubborn persistence. It is not nice to look at these photographs. It’s mostly pictures of corpses."

Sitting on a coffin, on death, halfway into the grave, halfway through life—statistically—I wish to ask: In what war does it happen to be so, that the ONE party wades around in the corpse, apparently without worrying? Where the one party is allowed to raise doubt, that the war is going on at all? Where the one party scold the wounded, blame the killed? Where the one party stands so firmly on the resources, culturally, legally and economically, that it never loses more than it chose to invest itself, and where the opportunity to be ignorant is just one of it’s privileges? That’s my question.

But the woman as an artist and the woman as gender are an always already dead figure. I’m a person of color. I am a woman. I am less than 1.60 meters tall and not Christian. I’m used to not being heard. I’m used to having to speak loud to be heard. I am used to being ignored, patronized and exposed to prejudice and stereotyped notions of my personality, motives or behavior based on my skin color. I am used to being passed over for the benefit of white colleagues, and I am used to hearing that I am troublesome, when I demand the same as them. I am used to being demonized or exoticized, and I am used to nothing existing in between. I am used to being categorized as white, heterosexual, masculine, and Western. I am used to the fact that all "the others" are experienced as one, unified mass. I am used to murders happening at all levels and across minority divisions. That feminists are racist, that people of color are homophobic, that religious are fascist, that homosexuals discriminate against people with disabilities. I am used to minorities being played against each other, and that this is part of the strategy to maintain a basic oppressive, racist and patriarchal system against everything that is characterized as "the other." I’m used to people not seeing it. I’m used to dying a bit every day.

Virginia says: "A woman must have money and a room of her own, if she is to write. Give her a room of her own and five hundred pounds. Let her write, what she has in mind, and then cut half of the text, and soon she will have written the best book ever."

A minority person, who has decided to go to war against history, must prepare for death. She must be ready to learn the nauseating art of swallowing along the way, in which she can look forward to swallowing an innumerable number of camels along with her own pride. She must learn superficial forgiveness and rhetorical ingenuity so that she—for the majority—in a warm and safe and comfortable way, can point out politely, that it has just killed her. Again. And again. And again. She must rely on the intellectual and emotional habit of the majority, because without these, the majority will not carry her forward, and without being carried by the majority, her words will gain neither weight nor power.

Once she realizes that death is the ultimate space of her own, she can write. The paper she writes on is white.


Written by Joan Rang Christensen, and Korean-Danish adoptee and award-winning playwright. Joan is educated at The Danish National School of Playwriting in 2004, and has had around 40 radio and stage plays produced in Denmark, England, Germany, Sweden, and the USA. Most recently, “Tonight the war comes home” (Copenhagen, 2019)—about the shootings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris.

WAR DEATH THE SEA was performed by the author at museum Munkeruphus in Denmark, on August 2, 2015, in connection with Jette Hye Jin Mortensen’s exhibition "A Landscape Theater" and as a part of the exhibition “The Voyage Out” about Virginia Woolf.

Photo credit: Timme Hovind


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