This performance, created for the site-speciphic Crypt Gallery exhibition is based on Witchcraft, more accurately to the condition of people accused and imprisoned for their power and intimidating beliefs. It is partly illustrative but its most comprehensive description could be marked as Presence. The presence of life, already lost, and its purpose goes beyond representational practise. It aims to deliver a powerful message to the audience and through the authenticity of the experience to make them realize, imagine, observe what the condition of those captivated people was - tormented, bound, barefoot, lost. Immersive in its essence, it shows the witch –women, accused with no evidence, suppressed under the law, condemned. Movement in slow motion shows the stillness of time – between life and death and addresses the fate of the prisoner – unable to find a way out. To enrich the atmosphere, already created by the Crypt features, the whole space is ‘traced’ by Pamphlets /accounts of the ‘law’s’ power and of the ‘witches’ infringements/ - this is a time when the printing press was invented – it spreads the beliefs and this reinforces the consequences of the Witch Craze. The movement stops entirely when a Sound installation starts – it recalls the mysteriousness of the time and, and simultaneously announces the imminent punishment and inevitable doom.
People accused of Witchcraft were condemned to death. Heretics beliefs were influenced by doctrines tinged to Dualism /In its ancient vision about ‘cosmic conflict between light and darkness, spirit and flesh, good and evil’/, and thus become a reason Witchcraft, descended originally from folklore and sorcery, to be associated with Heresy. The Church initiated the chase of witches at the beginning of the Middle Ages and decisively assimilated sorcery to heresy, which led to the death of hundreds of people and continued for centuries.
My purpose was also to relate the concept, even though not directly, to essential elements in my practise theme - I traced the History of Witchcraft back in time, to discover its ancient roots in the code of Good and Evil, applying to the substance of existence, the inherent human nature of destructive will, and its use as constitution of power.
During the exhibition Art of Change: New Directions from China at the Hayward gallery the Chinese artist Yingmei Duan presents the Performance Happy Yingmei, where the visitors are invited to enter a magical, dream-like environment of bare-tree forest. She is hidden from their immediate view, they discover her presence in surprise in a magical landscape, an atmospheric forest. She remains silent, walking among the visitors, giving them directions written on pieces of paper - distinction between the observer and the observed is blurred.
Powerful approach to communicate with the audience in an immersive way. Similarly, the space at the Crypt played as such a natural mystical environment for my Performance No Salvation, 'playing' with the beholders' perception, who suddenly realizes that a ghost appears and disappears in the knot-paths and secret corners of the tomb.
I refer again to the great sense of endurance in Rhythm 5, where Abramovic must bear the heat of the fired star. Instead, the challenge in my performance was the cold. Not only was the duration in slow motion and the resistance to the visitors full of tension, but also the ground and the air were extremely cold as the Crypt is underground and built of stone. I was walking bare-foot, dressed in a thin robe, over the cold, wet, muddy floor, like being outside in the forest during winter time. This was apperently quite shocking for the audience, as they were freezing even in warm coats, but otherwise the experience would not be authentic. As Marian concluded, there are some boundaries in the Performance experience, but sometimes, they must be stretched, at least to the level of the sought impact.