Traumgirl @ Summerhall

Anne Welenc's sister work to Traumboy is an exploration of female sex work in the western world

Review by Rachel Baker | 08 Aug 2019
  • Traumgirl @ Summerhall

In conjuction with Daniel Hellmann's captivating and revealing Traumboy is Traumgirl from German-Polish performer Anne Welenc. As the piece begins Welenc is posed like a renaissance painting with a pink sparkly bubble machine between her legs – a satirical undertone is palpable from the outset. Throughout the show Welenc answers audience questions, tells stories and performs songs, essentially drawing similarities between her sex work and her performance to deconstruct the stigma around her controversial profession.

Welenc is a commanding force on the stage, and this presence immediately asserts the authority of her argument. Unlike Hellman, who explores the enjoyment he finds in his work, Welenc paints an autobiographical narrative to examine how her life has brought her to this point. Her evident emotional strength shatters any assumptions about insecurity and weakness in sex work, while her scathing tone is critical of the need to work itself, regardless of the means by which you do so. 

Neat commentaries are made on the fetishisation of the female body through the show's opening images and a dance sequence where Welenc stuffs a latex suit with strategically placed foam pads. This is an outstanding example of show-don't-tell, touching on a topic which is so rife in the media at the moment it needs no explanation. 

However, Welenc's ideology is confused at points. When the subject of female sex workers who don't have agency over their actions is broached, the answer given is convoluted and brushes over the fact that many women's experience is miles away from what Welenc describes.

While its techniques are similar to Traumboy, Traumgirl's sentiment is entirely unique. With a caustic tone and a domineering stage presence, Welenc reveals the ways in which sex work is as much of a dramaturgy as the performance we are seeing in that moment. And if that is the case, what is there to judge?

TraumgirlSummerhall (Old Lab), 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 Aug, 8.10pm, £10-12