Barbie Breakout is best known for her DJing work in Berlin nightclubs, and does not say anything on the video but simply produces a threaded needle and proceeds to pierce her lips and pull the cotton tight, sealing up her mouth.
Blood flows from the wound, and although she manages to keep a straight face for most of the ordeal, by the end she is wincing with pain.
In the second part of the video an off-screen commentary criticizes the German government for not taking a stand against the raging homophobia in Russia.
President Vladimir Putin’s government recently passed a law banning any “propaganda promoting homosexuality” with an extremely broad yet undefined remit. In the mean time attacks on gay people have multiplied and attracted no official condemnation.
Although Breakout Barbie has no particular links to Russia, she told Die Welt newspaper she felt deeply affected by the widespread violence against gay people in the country.
“The pain I felt inside when I had to see in the media what is happening in Russia was greater than the physical pain of the needle. My partner held the camera while I did it. But he couldn’t look.
“In my youth I had more holes in an ear than through my mouth in this performance. Apart from a small bruise on my left upper lip, everything has healed up again. It was about symbolism, not about self-harm.”
She said she hoped people would become more aware of the situation in Russia, and possibly take what direct action they could.
“I hope that people for example, will buy fewer Russian products. And give the 2014 Olympics in Russia particular attention. Companies such as Coca Cola and McDonald’s are right at the front as supporters with advertising. Perhaps we could talk to the consciences of these important companies via a boycott or many letters of protest. Such a government cannot be supported.”