Broken is part of a series of sculptures created in 2020. Bleijenberg began creating this piece shortly before the United States 2020 presidential election. The work embodies the collective experience of the final days of campaigning and election day. It captures the intense emotions present before, during the counting of the votes, and the insurrection following the vote counts.
Broken depicts a nude female crouched on all fours crawling on the ground. The defensive pose alludes to her pain and fatigue. One hand covers her face while the other reaches forward in an attempt to keep her moving. The multiple openings and deep pits in the surface texture of the piece allude to the scarring of metaphorical and literal beatings. Though the figure is on the ground, she is still trying to get up. She is down, but not down for the count.
To fully capture these intense emotions, Bleijenberg turned to the Japanese form of Butoh dance for inspiration.
Butoh began in the 1960s as an expression of post-World War II shock.Butoh performances often explore taboo topics such as death, sex, and eroticism through controlled motions and disturbing poses. The dance consists of slow movements by performers in the nude wearing white body paint. Some poses include rolled eyes and bodies rotated inward or in uncomfortably strained fetal positions. The white makeup worn by the dancers on their faces and body enhance the agony represented within the dance. Often drooling is part of the performance. As the dancers continue with their movement, it is not unusual for the makeup to begin rubbing off exposing the dancer's natural skin tones and creating a powerful visual effect of melting, crying, wounding or hurting. Each dance is highly theatrical, combined with periods of stillness and slow actions that focus on the details of aesthetic and movement.