Limits and freedoms of movement and inertia

The cage

Photo Cristian Samoila

When I’m ashamed, when I’m self-disappointed, when I’m feeling devalued, or I’m not into my advantage, when I feel powerless and frustrated, I FREEZE.

Like a prehistoric remains of the only way I had as escape while being a child.
I froze, I kept prostrated in a chair or on a bed for hours, with no perceptible activity.
My mother took it for laziness and accused me of having an exceptional inertia.
But it worked hard in my mind. I walked into my imagination, at that time, certainly more beautiful than reality.

In my mind, I was pretty, I was beautiful and respected, and I always got out.
The inertia of my body didn’t represent anything other than my unwillingness – as we understand it! – to get out of this state of comfort, as we refuse to leave the arms, the skin and the sweet torpor of the beloved, after love.
So I took refuge in these spiritual cuddles with my innermost life: it was quite natural.

One day, or rather day after day, I was able to arrange the reconciliation of my reality with my dream. Escape into my imagination was no longer so necessary. I still go to find inspiration, get new creative breaths, for the art, as we visit an old aunt to grab the New Year’s gifts. But frankly, if I want to dream, I can do it easily, while doing my work and my activities, without freezing more than that.
Then if I little freeze henceforth, it’s mostly for my wellbeing, to give me time to laze and postpone what I don’t feel like doing.

But yet, I – sometimes – freeze hard. I freeze the bad way.

When I’m ashamed, when I’m self-disappointed, when I’m feeling devalued, or I’m not into my advantage, when I feel powerless and frustrated, I FREEZE AGAIN.

And like a finished war where warriors continue to kill each other, I freeze again without being able to escape into my imaginary.

A hollow freeze, an empty freeze.
I’m here, as in a glass dome, a prisoner of my negative state. How to open the cage?
I cannot think, I cannot imagine, I feel bad and that’s it, an infinite sadness. And this double failure, and this double frustration: the initial factual situation that engaged the process, and the added value of this sensation of starting from scratch each time, of being constantly reduced to the same desperate limits, despairing find that my being stagnates without hope to evolve; a distressing feeling of losing ground, of having too much run after the precious time to progress the days before, all these efforts with yourself to get to the immemorial inertia, which deletes all successes to immerse you in the morbid consciousness that any time can only be lost.

Then, I don’t know if calling my imaginary can help me find the air, perforate the glass dome, or rather push me down even more…
Performers are they perforators (of cages, of limits)?
The performers, these masters of time and duration, which can remain motionless, sitting in a chair for three months (see Marina Abramović in The artist is present), agitating with the rapidity of a Road Runner, walking as slowly as possible (see The slowly walks by Orlan, artist) or otherwise set off at full speed against a wall (again Abramović) to dislocate their physio-psychological structures…

The cage

Photo Cristian Samoila

I perform to let me believe that I can choose my limits. The colour of the glass dome, its texture, its pattern, its transparency or opacity – if you understand me.

Maybe all people who perform do it to further push their limits.

If I take as example the famous performers mentioned above:
The art of Orlan denounces social pressures concerning the stereotypes of beauty and morality.
She transforms her face and her body, giving another outcome to the aesthetic surgery, fighting off the confines of her skin, to test the woman and the beauty beyond the standard codes. For this, Orlan creates a new unit of measurement, the Orlan-body.

Abramović, self-proclaimed the grandmother of the performance, went to the limits of this experience about the self and the other, the cursor love/hate.

Both share a commitment to their art and their respective approach, which are total, absolute, unlimited. This is certainly the only freedom we have: choose the art and the way you live/die, to be born/kill yourself. That is to say to be confronted with our limits, those of our body, but especially those of our childhood, of our history, of our culture…

The great performers have in common the acceptance of risk taking and the indifference to taboos.
The expression of their art can be accused to be trash or gore, because it necessarily contains the danger and violence against themselves to experience these limits, and to reflect their expression (not necessarily in marshmallow and toupee carpet!).

Because any performance can only be a failure if we consider that the limits can be transcended. The limits are the limits (shit, where are we going, otherwise). They are made to hold us, as true as life can’t be eternal and as death is the end.
But we can choose to live as we wish, to dress up the cage to almost reach to love it, and even, sometimes, to forget it for a time…
Then we see the sky, the surrounding landscape as if the glass was not there, the colours are more vibrant, the birds’ songs are more alive.

To perform does not change the reality, but allows an ecstatic experience inside it.
But still, I wonder:
Might also, by dint of watching it other way, the landscape can change?
I want to give me a chance to believe it.

Perform can’t be done in comfort.
To feel alive, you have to shiver in the cold as scorching in heat. The warmth creates numbness and sleepiness. If it’s warm, then at least you must know how to face time and boredom. To make snaily performances, in length and languor. And then, things start to get interesting.

When I made the barbinnuit & ssayanmobil performance, I was there, feeling every jolt of my being, in icy contact with the cold gouache. I felt nearly Christ, at my humble level! It was the same mental process: I was self-inflicting to sustain unpleasant sensations, that bristled my body, and my mind was cleaved: one part refused the experience, feeling victim with the look of a hangdog; the other part felt triumphant and proud to host this hellish position, to take responsibility of my choice. Master and slave all in one, is this to be performer?
Power and impotency.
The power to feel that we are exactly where we’ve chosen to be, because we know it would suffice a small thing – a step, a word, a look – to stop it all.
The inability to know that we could not help but choose to be there, in this physically difficult position, and that now we must go, if not by suffering, at least by the unsettling feeling connected with our crazy ambiguity, with our ambivalence.
In this sense, the performances, in my opinion, should always have place for loopholes, for possible returns, and always, necessarily, also rely on the performer himself, and certainly not depend on an external person. This is in order to not disqualify the choice/no choice: without this reversibility, the performance looks like a martyrdom and can’t be an art of freedom. It vanishes, becoming a mistreatment, and then, a nonsense.

The body art and the body-performance seem to only involve the body.
That’s quite an illusion, because it’s only about the mind, the way it embodies, how the mind takes the body, with or against its will. I believe that the spirit has never had so much corporeality, so much flesh, was never so visible and showy, than in performances. Performances are the best way to relegate the body to the dressing room to reveal the spirit in the spotlight, finally!

This is why the ecstatic state of the performer (I hurt myself and I feel good, I suffer and I am free) – performer which is not really there, but in an intermediate world – reminds me the experience of the ascetics and shamans. In this sense, I think the performance is an art that cannot get rid of a certain spirituality. It affects the beyond, the visionary sphere and the art of passageway.
Beyond the body, the mind feels her wings growing. At the same time, the performers’ mind does not give up the respectable humility of being shown as vulnerable, in trouble and in difficulty.

The cage

Photo Cristian Samoila

The ecstasy is good.
The addiction would be to be unable to return.
And I specify that in performance, we are in an intermediate dimension, alternative to the imaginary and the symbolic: to perform puts you in another reality, a Winnicottian transitional space, where your fantasy has to share her lunch with ghosts, with the collective imaginary and with the coldness of the gouache.

And if you didn’t understand at all, nothing prevents you from trying: please, go perform yourself!



I’m here, in my glass dome, prisoner of my negative state. How to open the cage?