Indie producer Fever Ray is known for esoteric lyrics and stunningly dark imagery. From the music video for “If I Had a Heart,” reminiscent of the Jonestown massacre, to her appearance receiving a P3 Guld award, wearing a mask allegedly simulating acid burns as a form of protest, Fever Ray’s artistry is influenced by the spectacularly macabre. One example is the video for “When I Grow Up,” in which a young woman wearing a pastiche of symbols stands on a diving board of a pool. Covered in face paint, feathers, fabrics, symbols such as eyes on her palms, &c., she performs a dance that, though angular and frenetic, emphasizes the rhythm of the song as her movements become increasingly fluid (compare 1:27 to 2:30). The image is that of feral pagan juxtaposed with domestic. Throughout the video, we get glimpses from inside the house (e.g. 0:18, 2:39) and from below the surface of the pool (e.g. 0:43, 3:11), the camera angle offering an almost voyeuristic perspective, as if this dance is the natural and the domestic is intrusion.
Though the Gaze is pervasive, the performance becomes linked to the perspective of the disembodied aqueous eye. The woman bites her finger and then lets a drop of water, saliva, or (symbolically) blood drip down into the pool (2:09). Regardless of what it is, there is an exchange of body for a vague something: it isn’t until this drop hits the surface that the dance becomes significantly more fluid and the water more closely linked to the ritualistic movements. However, the body is not subjected to a loss of agency in this exchange. Through the ritual, the woman has assumed control of whatever is in the water, each shift of the body causing the water to burst into geysers (2:49). If the water is an extension of the fluvial “body” that is pure perspective (i.e. an iteration of the Gaze), this woman’s dance has direct control over it. The purpose of ritual for this figure, then, is not simply using the body, but rather finding new means of embodiment through symbolic extension. In this way, the ritual subverts the Gaze, subjecting it to the body rather than the other way around, allowing the woman to control it instead of being subjected to it.