Cherish Menzo is an Amsterdam-born artist and performer of Surinamese origins. She has danced with several choreographers including the Akram Khan Company, Leo Lerus, Hanzel Nezza, Jan Martens, Nicole Beutler, Benjamin Kahn, Lisbeth Gruwez, Eszter Salamon and Ula Sickle. On stage she investigates the different interactions and possibilities between audience and performer.
Jezebel is inspired by Video Vixens, those hyper-sensual model-like protagonists of late 90s and early 2000s hip hop videos. Amid glittering gold, syncopated rhythms and provocative dresses, the constantly repeated image proposed by these videos reinforce stereotypes associated with black women, in a loop between self-determination and objectification. Also called “hip-hop honeys” and “video girls”, Video Vixens were the subject of severe criticism and branded as the “jezebels”, the “bad girls” of the time. However, their performances had a great influence on the aesthetics of that period, as well as on the popularity of the (male) artists. And all despite both explicitly demeaning lyrics (usually written by men) and their supposed provocative appearance (for men). Through all this the Video Vixen has benefited and suffered at the same time, and today represents much more than an objectified model at the total disposal of a male dominated culture.
Jezebel refuses to be defined by others. She navigates the landscape of hip-hop culture in search of ways to reclaim her image. How can this “video girl” deconstruct stereotypes and redefine herself today?