Diversity & Media

Agency in Pendulum

Pendulum by FKA twigs is a song about overcoming a challenging relationship, and the video is a piece of performance art. The video begins with the a shot of the artist’s mouth as she sings the opening lyric “I’m a sweet, little love maker.” Her position is revealed slowly; she’s suspended in the air bound tightly by material into an almost-ball, hanging like a pendulum. As the song progresses, she slowly removes herself from her completely restricted position. First she puts one foot on the ground, while the majority of her body is still entangled. Next, she is sitting on the ground (still bound by her arms and chest) wrestling to break free. In the end she stand unbound completely. As she undergoes this transformation of “breaking free”, so does her hair. She begins the video with her hair in tight buns on top of her head; as she becomes free of whatever binds her–a material which bears a striking resemblance to her braids–her hair becomes less constrained as well. When she places her foot on the ground for the first time the buns have been let out to braids; when she sits on the ground, very much still bound by her chest, the braids coming from her hair are indiscernible from whatever is wrapped around her. By the end of the video her hair has been almost entirely let down. This experience of growth, which strikingly resembles a butterfly leaving a cocoon, is paralleled with the lyrics of the song. The song, which reads like a poem, discusses her overcoming the pain from feeling not good enough, or not “right” enough, for her partner. This video is definitely an example of performance art as defined in McMillan’s “Performing Objects”. McMillan writes that performance art normally includes the ‘”body as an object.”‘ In Pendulum the video begins with FKA twigs appearing as an actual pendulum. McMillan states, “…reimagine black objecthood as a way toward agency rather than its antithesis.” This absolutely takes place in Pendulum; FKA twigs’ agency builds gradually until she has totally abandoned her objecthood by the end

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