In this piece the author uses humour to think about the reach of feminist discourses in society, and more specifically, amongst women. The true application of the feminist struggles and achievements in everyday life is also examined with irony, which again is the key element in her approach to the debate. It has become part of the artist’s style to concentrate her messages within an action, rather than producing a fiction or a pseudo-documentary. In this piece, Sábada takes us to an aerobics session, a discipline associated with specifically female physical maintenance activities. A close shot shows us the artist’s feet doing “Step” on a pile of books. She will gradually raise the pile by adding new books as if they were the steps of a strained mental staircase. After not very long we notice that the books are all on feminist theory, most of them having to do with the creative realm.
The contrast between the movement of the woman’s feet to the beat of the music and the gradual addition of books to the pile, provokes an initial smile in the viewer. However, almost immediately, we are confronted with the strangeness of the scene, which allows us to think about the real effect of the struggles of feminism in the everyday life of women. From a more optimistic perspective, we could also read these steps as each one of the small steps of the feminist project.
This is one of the most mature works by Sábada, due to its capacity to delve into the real problems of women and at the same time, make subtle references to the feminist art tradition, of which she is herself part. In this piece we can find a brilliant metaphor that relates the “step” (a typical discipline of advanced societies and leisure business) to the feminist discourse. It refers to the elitism of these discourses so often embedded in advanced societies, that very rarely filter into the developing world, where the levels of injustice and impoverishment that women suffer are scandalous.
Sábada knows well the history of feminist art and the individual artists’ trajectories from the 1960s, who began to use video in order to claim a new identity of their own. She nevertheless has her own particular style of revising, by means of ironic video-performances, sexist archetypes, not only in her own work, but also in those pieces she has made with the collective Erreakzioa-Reacción [Reaction].