My research assignment is based on stimulus that questions the constitution of the human. I have, in particular, focused on Laughter: An Essay on the Meaning of the Comic, in which Bergson stipulates that laughter is a socially corrective function that seeks to single out behaviour that strays away from social acceptance and awareness of community, and cause it to be alienated and corrected. This observance of a familiar feature in social interaction, an inscribed performative act that comes to us as naturally and instinctively as blinking, has brought to my awareness the way, in our current societal context, that we have been conditioned to function so as to account for an integrated form of living that inches further away from individuality and automatism whilst concurrently moving towards a communally dependent form of living that stimulates awareness of culture, politics and society in general in order to facilitate a working communal body. My final work for this project, entitled The Way I Look At You has in turn focused on the line between the basic human; that which is driven by complete automatism and a lack of assimilation with societal models - and the articulated human; that which is integrated into the communal, following societal rules and assigning to themselves a complex identity fashioned from a framework of roles and qualities accumulated from observations of culture, politics, and societal lifestyles. The Way I Look At You consists of three works created in the medium of digitally manipulated photography, which are portraits of my multiplied selves in interaction with each other, in the space of the individual, self-reflexive bathroom.
The work is partially inspired by Sophie Calle’s The Hotel, in which Calle was hired as a temporary chambermaid in a Venetian hotel and recorded, through photography and writing, the personal belongings, activities, and details of the 12 bedrooms to which she received access. Calle’s scrutiny of these rooms is harsh, biased, and humorous, revealing facts about the guests to the public eye with a complete insensitivity to privacy and moral questionability. Calle’s invasion of privacy juxtaposes the acceptable between the individual, the familial (or relational), and the societal, questioning the existence and function of privacy, as well as the responsibility for a societally assimilated individual to act accordingly with models of acceptability at all times, regardless of contextualised space, whether it be a private hotel room, or a street. Evidently, Calle’s work would only be morally unquestionable if the subjects in question lived in a working society of the articulated human. The fact that The Hotel came under legal scrutiny, is a testament to the fact that the articulated human is a flawed ideal, and in action will always be balanced, in some part, by the basic, individual human, who is modelled from their individuality into an accepted body.
I was also partially influenced by Olivier de Sagazan’s performative works in which he progressively transforms from a suited man into an anthropomorphic being made of clay, hair, and paint, among other materials. Sagazan’s work strongly symbolises the degradation of the articulated human as one strives for individuality, or finds failure in their performance of the societal model, becoming more comfortable in their own skin as they disfigure their conditioned personality in order to be rebellious and individual. de Sagazan’s exploration of self, through his own performance, and his documentation of it through video media and photography in particular influenced my own series, as these features expose his own participation, rather than transcendence and observance of the themes involved in the work, and invite the viewer to feel the sense of, or perhaps concede their own participation and involvement in these contemporary issues. My choice to photograph myself in place of a model is driven by my desire to portray the universality of the tension between the basic human and the articulated human. However, unlike de Sagazan’s disfiguration from the articulated to the basic, my series begins from the basic – the individual at heart – and complicates this with the presence of the articulated through desired multiplication and magnification of self. For this reason I digitally manipulated the photos to create multiple versions of myself – versions of the basic, as well as performing versions of the articulated, piling up in the one space resulting in clash and discordance, on the one hand, from the claustrophobia of the space and the cacophonic presence of contradicting thoughts and desires, and on the other hand, from the physical implausibility of a multiplied self. Placed in the introspective, self-reflective, and self-cleansing space of the bathroom, I have attempted to make the work about our tempestuous relationship with self, and how our basic nature is never enough for our strivings; our need to be magnified and compared with different models is substantiated by our willingness to interact with others, and a subsequent craving for acceptance. Ultimately, my series narrativises this struggle with no conclusion, which aims to communicate the idea that any attempt to magnify the self will end in a collapse, from which nothing but the original self results.
Artist and photographer Richard Mosse reveals the stories behind the making of his latest film, ‘The Enclave’ (2013), in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which…
THIS BLEW MY MIND
"Berlinde De Bruyckere did not ask J.M. Coetzee to contemplate on her work as would normally be expected from a curator. Her request to him was to provide a parallel text, a juxtaposition that reveals the connection between both oeuvres. He sent her ‘The Old Woman and The Cats’, an unpublished text that she absorbed and gradually translated into the work. During the working process, a correspondence arose between the artist and the author. She described the entire process meticulously. He sent her his thoughts, associations, suggestions and a text about the title ‘Kreupelhout – Cripplewood’. Due to the actual physical distance (Coetzee lives on the other side of the world), this correspondence was their only means to communicate. Through their letters they circled around the work, ‘sculpting’ it in words".
Inhale-Exhale by Terike Haapoja translates the chemical breakdowns of a coffin filled with organic matter into sound, creating a living piece that breathes loudly.
The Pro-ana community has turned anorexia (Ana) into its dogma. They venerate the illness giving meaning to their totalitarian “lifestyle”. It’s a virtual reality where they state commandments, share motivating tricks and exchange hundreds of images of thin models via their blogs. They have created Thinspiration, a visual new language - obsessively consumed to keep on wrestling with the scales day after day. Now, they evolved interacting with their cameras portraying their bony clavicles or flat bellies; or consuming extreme anorexic images, the Pro-ana have made Thinspiration evolve. I re-take their self-portraits, photographing and reinterpreting their images from the screen, resulting the visual response to the bond between obsession and self-destruction; the disappearance of one’s own identity. The project is a personal and introspective journey across the nature of obsessive desire and the limits of auto-destruction, denouncing disease’s new risk factors: social networks and photography.
This is cool because she did an epilogue where she rephotographed her original photographs and recontextualised them in a real-world space.
http://vimeo.com/67310447 brillliant artwork by nicola costantinto at the venice biennale. an homage to eva peron.
History Zero - Stefanos Tsivopoulos
In this, film and archive are parallel and complementary conceptualizations of the central topic of History Zero which is the complex, ever-changing and class-determined relationship we entertain to money, and the mechanisms by which value is attributed, added, and taken away. Useless scrap metal acquires the value of gold to the poor immigrant, banknotes acquire the decorative value of paper flowers in the hands, and mind, of the rich old collector, while an accidental discovery by the artist could obtain irrational surplus value.
The film, as a living archive of the future, records the discontinuity, the ruptures and the complexity of the present economic regime and the contradictions of human experience within it. It establishes new spaces for the imagination and for memory in which three mutually exclusive states of mind take shape. Each story contains an element which must be subverted in order for the next story to take place. The reversal of the collector’s ‘logical’ relationship to objects permits the ‘salvation’ of the immigrant and the realization of his dream, but only when he reverses his survival strategy. For the artist, the “resignification” of his chance find, his objet trouvé, asserts modernist artistic practice as assuming power over meaning. Constant conceptual reversals and transgressions of meaning thus make it possible for the film sequence to continue.
- Syrago Tsiara Thessaloniki (March 2013, “On the Surplus Value of a Dream”