The essence of my project is creating a virtual portrait of an imaginary woman, whose age, charm, attractiveness, and mental state would depend on the emotional involvement of the spectator. The "person" whom I would bring into being, as it were, would thus depend on the close contact with the spectators, and primarily on the compliments and ofends they would direct at here. Listtenig the rude words, she would gradually lose hers good looks and would "wither". Her face would become covered with wrinkles and would wear the expression of unhappiness, sadness, and regret. She would get older and older. This process could be reversed only if the spectators addressed her with such kind words as e.g.: "You are beautiful", "I admire you", "I adore you", "Have a good day" etc.
The installation "Kissing You, I am Kissing Katarzyna Kobro", was commissioned by Muzeum Sztuki in Lodz, it supposed to become a contemporary component of the celebrations of the centenary of the artist's birth and the exhibition and symposium organized on the occasion. Unfortunately because of finical problems it have not been produced.
Studding the the theoretical and artistic oeuvre of the sculptor and reading about her life, mainly from her daughter Nika Strzeminska's memoirs, I was struck with her story and details of her personal life. Preparing my project, I had first focused on some formal considerations, examine her approach to art and her ideas, to find those still alive today, which could become the point of departure for my work. I was extremely surprise to find in Kobro's theoretical writings a large number of statements that I could fully accept and take as my own. I even prepared a project directly embodying selected theoretical issues concerning space, the boundaries of sculpture, and the functions of art. However, after some time I began to feel that this work way to formal, devoid of any personal or emotional elements, emphasized strongly in the book and its very title: "Love, Art and Hate".
The work describe here was conceived under the direct influence of Kobro and Strzeminsk's daughter's book abut her parents. I gave up the theoretical angle, and began looking for ways of referring directly to the artist's life, unable to get rid of images of terrible poverty and suffering which she experienced in her final years. I was haunted by the image of her face undergoing such enormous changes with the passage of time. I asked myself again and again: is art worth such sacrifice?
My personal answer is no. No suffering, even that leading to eternal salvation or the creation of great works is acceptable to me. The conception of art as a vampire gradually killing its creator is an unnatural parasitic construction. The modernist model of a suffering and usually ailing artist, characteristic for the turn of the century, should be relegated to history, together with slavery or white slave traffic. The contemporary artist has the same right to freedom, happiness, and the enjoyment of life as other people taking up such challenge.
In my work, I have sought to achieve intimate interaction between the spectator and the virtual woman. The spectator will decide what he will be looking at. I would like him to become aware of the creative potential of both his presence and his absence, to experience the power of: words and silence. Those who will not come to see the exhibition will also be responsible for the changes in the woman's face, because of their absence, their lack of involvement. They will produce gaps, silences, during which the face, lacking adoration, will undergo gradual deterioration. The success of the work would consist in evoking in the spectator the feeling of responsibility for the virtual woman, the feeling that her well being depends directly on him. I would like to break the spectator's habits, his passivity towards art and perhaps more then art. Art is not what counts the most here. Perhaps the spectator will derive satisfaction from his active, creative stance towards reality. Or conversely, from his passive indifference - being an on-looker, a watchful observer of the changes.
The person living on the screen will gradually pass through successive "faces". From that of an ideal model, film star, young girl, to the face of a woman severely tired by life, perhaps even a diseased, disfigured face "decorated" with pathological growths. The face we prefer not to notice in the street. This will also be the face of our mothers, grandmothers and girlfriends; maybe even our own face on which suffering and the passing of time have left their mark. The time in which the virtual woman lives is obviously very different from ours. Changes occur faster here. The units of time parallel to ours differ in the number of successive events the contain; so that, for example, in seven minutes of virtual time one can live all one's life. It also lacks the directionality of real time, the pre-set beginning and end. Virtual life may go back to its beginning and start a new
The virtual face have been build from around 200 photos of different woman, from 16 years age to 90. It covers all various types of faces to create a riche data base of emotional responses. One face goes to another one using slow morphing effect.