Single channel symbolic installation
15 min loop
P(L)AIN TRUTH is "a symbolic installation”, which tells the story of a transsexual and uses extreme audio-visual means to describe her/his emotions during the different stages of her/his transformation from a biological woman into a biological man.
P(l)ain Truth is based on the real case of a person called Rudi. It is a visual record of her/his memories, experiences and aspirations, but by approaching its subject matter in a highly symbolic manner P(l)ain Truth protects his privacy and brings the whole issue of transsexualism and gender identity onto a more general level.
On the personal level P(l)ain Truth describes the painfulness of the transsexual’s paradoxical situation. A transsexual person may feel that s/he is imprisoned in the "wrong body". S/he feels a persistent sense of discomfort and inappropriateness about her/his anatomic sex. On the cultural level P(l)ain Truth emphasizes that transsexuals and their medical and social treatment depend heavily on other people’s definitions. Medical science by and large still treats transsexualism as a mental disorder. P(l)ain Truth suggests that transsexualism is a process of transformation, that sex and gender may both be redefined. P(l)ain Truth lists the complex procedures involved in the transformation from woman to man, which includes several different phases: psychological/psychiatric evaluation, hormonal medication, wearing only masculine clothes and using a masculine name, plastic surgery, breast amputation, penis construction and changing the birth certificate.
P(l)ain Truth exists somewhere between the realms of memory, fiction and reality. It uses a constant, quick-changing flow of images and sounds. There are no interviews or dialogue, and the only words appearing alongside the visual narrative are clinical, medical concepts, as well as some psychological questionnaires superimposed on the images. The music emphasizes the emotional intensity and contradictions inherent in the images. P(l)ain Truth can be described as a mixture of feature-film storytelling methods, experimental film strategies and video-art editing styles. It combines traditional film-making techniques, e.g. rostrum cinematography and optical printing, with the use of conventional video equipment.
P(l)ain Truth questions the legitimacy of any simple truth. It also interrogates the possibilities of conventional documentary. The title with its multiple meanings refers to Rudi’s painful subjective experience, but it also ironizes the concept of objective truth used in the documentary tradition. P(l)ain Truth comments on the relationships between gender, sexuality and biology. The whole issue of transgenderism is closely linked with identity and body politics. Contemporary cultural theories have emphasized the social construction of the whole formation of subjectivity – gender included. Critics of transsexual surgical corrections have argued that the operations simply prop up the rigid, conventional notions of gender roles and the power relations associated with them. In P(l)ain Truth Rudi smashes the mirror reflecting the idealized image of both a woman and a man. He may be able to start building up an identity that would challenge both sides of the old dichotomy.