EHF: I See Red @ Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh

Silvestre Correia's ambitious multi-media horror unsettles and re-appropriates gender

Review by Rho Chung | 02 Nov 2023
  • I See Red

In the programme, I See Red is called a 'love letter to the horror genre'. I think this is actually a bit humble – the multimedia piece, consisting of pre-recorded media and live performance art, is a vital addition to the genre. Equal parts performance art and moving image, the piece chronicles self-estrangement and self-knowledge. 

Performer and director Silvestre Correia is uncanny in the best way – the piece comes to rest comfortably in what I would call mouth horror, as a subset of body horror. Using white and red light, Correia highlights and erases his red lipstick. His face, silhouetted against the projection screen, is more than enough stimulation for the audience. I can't look away. Correia's slow, drool-filled mouthography constructs a visceral reflection of the flashes played on screen. The piece is made with a rare sense of true artistic ambition, challenging the audience not to look away.

The piece is broken into two parts – two similar, maybe identical monologues adapted from works of literature, rendered unrecognisable behind Correia's milky grimace. The piece's greatest success is its embodiment of interiority; billed as trans horror, the piece certainly delivers. Sitting in the audience, knowing 'what's going on' seems overrated. I feel looked through, unsettled. George Murphy's airy, esoteric text provides cultural touch points through which the audience comes to understand the speaker's distance from himself. It is not a rejection of femininity, but a re-appropriation. Correia alienates the signs of femininity – sparkles, lipstick, and so on – from gender identity, showing the markers of gender to be socially constructed and policed. 

The second movement of the piece centres on the film, which turns the space into something like an art installation. Over unsettling compositions by José Valente, the film reorients the mirror as a lens – through the mirror, we see how far we have strayed from ourselves. I See Red is an essential contribution to the growing field of absurdist trans horror – it figures transness not as a static monolith, but as a lived experience that cannot be simply spoken and understood. 

I See Red, Banshee Labyrinth, run ended; part of Edinburgh Horror Festival