top of page



interactive performance with ending dance (2 hours)

performance, concept and choreography

Valerie Reding


performed within the performance event „Friday Island“ at De Gudde Wellen in Luxembourg on 14/10/2016 and within the festival Images Vevey 2016 at LAC Galerie in Vevey (Switzerland) on 20/9/2016

documentation photography

El Dirko Meviso and Eli Thorne

This roughly two hour long performance first starts with the performer Valérie Reding only wearing skin coloured underwear and asking people to draw on her body with paint, only using their hands, while telling her what makes them smile. When the body is fully covered with paint, Reding will ask all the people that are present in the room to form a circle. She will then proceed to read a text putting the smile in the context of fight and power relations. At the end, she will perform a short dance, an embodiment of her personal experiences with “smiling” that will end in a dance ritual. “SMILE!” deals with experiences as a person that is perceived as a woman in our society, being regularly confronted in public and private spaces to catcalls or requests from (male) individuals to smile.

Although this request might seem very harmless at first sight, one can never know when a „Hey beautiful! Give me a smile!“ turns into a „Hey whore, I am talking to you!“ … and worse, more violent and physical violations. Furthermore, the smile, respectively appearing harmless and gentle is not only a response that has been taught to female individuals from birth through socialization, but smiling in order to avoid aggression and appear non-threatening in social interactions is a vital and very problematic strategy for any minority group.  A combination of interactive body-painting ritual and dance, „SMILE!“ explores the paradoxal issues surrounding this most fundamental and vital facial expression in the context of patriarchy, analyzing power relations, incarnated sexism, the objectification of the female body and a smile’s impact on human interactions - in public and private spaces.

Two fighters encounter each other before the actual fight.


The study provides evidence, that increased smile intensity prior to physical combat predicts poorer performance by the fighter exhibiting the smile, and enhanced performance for his less smiley opponent.


In other words, the fighters showing more intense smiles, were more likely to be knocked down by their opponent, were more likely to have their opponent land more significant strikes on them - they were punched and kicked more - and were more likely to be wrestled to the ground by their opponent during the fight.

On the contrary, the fighters showing more neutral facial expressions standing opposite their opponents before the fight, were more likely to win the fight.



CHOOSE 1 COLOR from the bottled paints.

APPLY YOUR COLOR on my skin.

How much paint you apply,

how and where you apply it is your choice,

the only condition being that

you use nothing but YOUR HANDS to apply it.

While applying the color,


I will listen to your stories and


If you choose to interact with me,



bottom of page