Berlin based director and producer Joanne Schwarz is an award-winning, UK trained dancer and performer who has worked with organisations such as Hofesh Shechter, Rambert, Gecko and The Royal Ballet. SET ON YOU is a contemporary dance project solely based around sexual abuse within our society and the effect it imposes on its victims and offenders. The short film portraits different stages of the aftermath of having been sexually abused, filtering through the disabling feeling of helplessness to a sickening sadness, through a sticky feeling of aggression, which turns into uplifting thoughts of revenge and reestablishing self-worth and love.
“The imagery within this film repeatedly shows tainted everyday events. Highlighting the ongoing and heavy struggle to find strength to forget, overcome and heal. The piece is danced to “I got my mind set on you” by James Ray, a cheerful earworm which turns into a haunting one which you try to get out of your head, but it sticks, just like an assault.
The work is site specific, focusing on several different locations in Suffolk, UK, my home. The sites were chosen to underline the issues of sexual abuse which I aimed to address in this piece. The open green garden space resembles normality and growth. This is juxtaposed by cutting wood, as normality and growth are beyond comprehension after an assault. Later on in the video the same location is used but in the rain, resembling purification and regrowth. The shower and the bath resemble cleansing. Cleansing was vital for my recovery process. It became so crucial to me that it was obsessive. I would often have 5-10 showers a day and still not feel clean, this is why I wanted to include the dirt in the shower shot.
It took me a while to find a site which resembled a levelling point within my journey of recovery. I found it in a field which touched the sky and created an actual line. I am placed in-between, highlighting a midway point of recovery. I chose the empty, seedy pub to resemble my natural state of being after the assault, cold, sticky, non-important. I juxtaposed this with my dancing where I used high levels of energy, to visualise the internal will and strength of overcoming, which was necessary to find a way back to my former self.“