Evoking a state of endurance – psychological and physical, this installation-performance piece examines the relationship protection - confinement, incorporated into the ambivalent interaction between humans and nature.
Originally, Quarantine was planned as a metaphor of isolation embedded in the idea of self-fortification which might be a defence but also a state of fear and escapism.
Later, it was conceptualized around the Climate crisis theme in the Horniman late event: Speculative futures presented by the Horniman Museum and Gardens. The life performance challenged the individual response of the viewer in an attempt to raise awareness of the role of a personal choice and personal responsibility in the fight with climate change, as well as any other crisis.
The performer constitutes confrontation with the audience and provokes them to express attitude – to engage or ignore, as the performer stares silently in the eyes of the viewer. Is the ‘character’ confined or secured? Is this protection from the outer world or imprisonment? Is the natural environment safeguarding us and what is our role in safeguarding it?
The idea of an inhabited cage-nest is materialized into a large wooden sphere whose surface is festooned with a coating of thorned branches. The sight of sharp edges recalls ‘danger’ and the environment has naturally developed its response to an attack and its system of counteraction. Thorns are the result of modifications in the plant’s shoot system as a defence against herbivores and other animals. Being considered a physical defence such modifications appear as protection against threats. I gave to the public the role of humanized threat and as an analogy of the delicate environment, I embodied the human in allegory to expose a vulnerability that cannot oppose to a violator and represent the way our environment needs our concern and compassion.
'The ancient Greeks referred to the sphere as a ‘MONAD’ ‘from the Greek root meaning ‘to be stable’ and monas ‘oneness’. Ancient philosophers also referred to it as The First, The seed, The Essence, The Builder, The Foundation, The Space producer, The Immutable Truth, and Destiny.
A circle or a sphere is the universal symbol of unity, wholeness, and completion, as well as equality and acceptance. As simple as it appears, the sphere is the most mysterious and subtle shapes. The sphere is the essence of the divine feminine. It is motherly womb itself...'
As such, nature is our home and I link the ideas above to the understanding of balance. 'Earth as well is referred to as a sphere and the sun is said to be the most perfect sphere in nature.' There is balance in laws of nature, rhythm and patterns in the natural phenomena, in light and darkness, seasons alternation, rain, and drought, planting, and harvest. In nature gravity and force transform many examples into spheres that would not exist if they were not balanced. Nature exists in balance with us and willingly gives us its vital resources, but we consume, humanity sinks in greed and abused power. Disrupting the subtle balance of the ecosystem we incite devastation to which environment will certainly respond and seek its lost balance.
The idea of isolation and confinement has long pervaded my concepts. A metaphor of constraint appeared to me as a determining condition to portray different notions of resistance, control, even escapism, as opposed to the manifestation of free will, liberation, and identification. In this case, with Quarantine, such examination of the psychic territory of the Self through the lens of outer influence was expanded to a point of challenging human being’s relationships and interaction incited in a sense of interference. Therefore, the materiality of the object itself plays part in reading those ‘silent’ correlations – the way the wooden sphere is constructed, with chaotically weaved fencing in a textured shelter of thick, firm ‘knots’ and void sections, illustrates the image of a ‘place’ - simultaneously hidden and explicit. A fence is build, but a space for sight, exposure, and confrontation remains. Confrontation followed by prevailing embarrassment, but for whom? The one confined? The beholder who is compelled to respond or who will ignore and run away indifferent?
The Artist is Present
The Conditioning /after Gina Pine/
Marina Abramovic is certainly one of the artists whose work is doubtlessly associated with the state of endurance and who has a huge influence on my Performance practice. Using her body as a site of meaning, she tests the boundaries of endurance - her own and that of the audience.
The exposition of her body, usually full of discomfort and embarrassment act, is a provocation in Abramovic performances to embarrass, upset, frighten, or amuse the viewer. Her boldness is her vehicle to undermine fear. The 'rituals' which involve a great risk of physical harm, the extreme stretch of the boundaries of physical and psychological firmness, occupy the space with powerful emotional charge and sometimes shocking, controversial experience in which the depths of the psyche are speechlessly unravelled.
In The Artist is present, the emotional contact between her and the viewer shifts between tension, tears, excitement, digging into the most secret, uncontrolled, vulnerable impulses of the human being. Vulnerability and trust as well, tension, focused eye contact in Rest Energy play with the imagination of the beholder in a wild scene were death is only a breath, a loose gesture away.
Cutting her skin, lying on a block of ice, loosing consciousness surrounded by fire, furiously razing bones are examples of Marina's resiliance, which, although being a lot more striking, make me refer to her work as I was experiencing a great state of endurance during the live presentation of Quarantine. I was literally freezing outside where, even though using precautions and behaving as I was completely calm, I felt the cold wind piercing my body all over, it was cold, dark, raining, dramatic, but the impact this scene left on the viewers, which I felt with each of my senses, was remarkable.