Questionnaire von Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung SAVVY Contemporary (2011)
1. Suspense and Tension
In my performance work I try to create situations of suspense: situations of not knowing what will happen next. For myself that means a lot of discipline to keep a role while a situation. I feel a tension, because I do not always feel comfortable while performing. The relation between tension and suspense becomes important. I like the idea that other people, the spectator for example, could maybe see or feel this relationship. Are tension and suspense brother and sister? One needs tension from time to time to become more relaxed in a way. Suspense is an old method in movies to keep the tension of the viewer. Tension can be negative and positive.
2. Give destiny a destination
What is destiny? Does it exist? I don‘t know if I should believe in it or not. But I can accept the idea that there are things going on we do not understand. If we understand in the “right“ moment that we don‘t understand a situation or a strange coincidence, because we are overwhelmed by its complexity, we are still free to decide to do something in a certain way. When I am performing, it is important which location I choose and how I want to speak, what I want to do: for example sitting in a business dress in a tree shouting like an owl. That is the destination I give. To decide and to act means to me giving destiny a destination. Art means to think, to decide, to act, to think, to decide, to act - to give a destination to an artwork. But for me it is important to imply coincidences. I want to loose control into the frame of destination.
3. Fairy tales and myths
The myth of the flying fairy with the tail in a tale.....We all need stories to create a world. Fairy tales can help to create a fantastic inner world in our minds. We can learn ethic behavior and moral from fairy tales to give orientation to good and bad, to right and wrong, to hero and bad guy. Often, real life is not that simple and we need to rethink.
Some interesting fairy tales from the 19th century show that this it not that simple. The tale „Die Kleine Meerjungfrau“ from Hans Christian Andersen shows that the individual fight between right and wrong can be very painful: the mermaid loves the prince so much that she changes her body into a human body with hurting feet, but he doesn‘t love her back and she has to return to the sea to become a ghost. The Disney version „Arielle“ has a happy end. For me that shows that fairy tales are sometimes used to hide the truth, to make the perception of things better for us - like a bubble all around. Even every brain creates its own bubble. Since Modernity, art thinks about perception. My question is the perception of contemporary fairy tale production of media like in cinema or magazines to create a myth of the perfect surface, the perfect body. Myths can be very old stories, told and told over decades. Myths are culturally important to keep a social identity together. But to repeat stories about certain people of historical importance like dictators for example can make them a dangerous myth. Sometimes myths should no longer be myths. On the other hand sometimes it is better to keep a myth a myth: The never ending youth is one example. But unfortunately there is so much industry which tells us fairy tales about how we have to be, to look, to behave. In my work I try to ask questions about these themes by using fairy tales or myths. In my work „ElleShapeYourself“ is the „Struwwelpeter“ a part. That‘s one of Heinrich Hoffmanns tales in which a young boy doesn‘t want to be cultivated in the way of educational standards of that time. This tale has a psychological dimension and talks about disfunction an reflects on my work.
4. Great expectations
When I do a video-performance I try to switch off all expectations. That‘s hard, because even if I don‘t expect, I expect something. I would like that people realize aspects in my artwork, they never expected. I would like to surprise.
5. The body as a tool or an object
With my interest for plastic surgery, the myth of a perfect surface, I see that bodies become more and more objects. Objects for an industry: cinema (industry of dreams), fashion industry or porn industry. Newly, chinese women and men use their body as tools to climb the social hierarchy. There are beauty schools for women to find a husband. One can only enter the school if you have a certain body hight. To attempt this body hight, some of them are willing to painful operations to stretch their legs. The body is seen like an object you can transform however you want. Working with this thesis, I often use my own body as a tool, I try to become more like an object or a doll to talk about the body as an object which it is obviously not. This eagerness between object and subject as two poles is an interesting aspect for me - trying to become an object by speaking in a mechanical way while performing, I learn more about my personal feelings being an individual and maybe I reach some people to think about this inversion, too.
6. Undecidable moments
To decide what to do is always very hard for me. When I do a video-performance, I do not think consciously all the time - I just decide automatically and what happens, happens. That‘s why I usually film the the performance only once. Of course I have my concept and mostly a text which is more like a mantra, but I like it, when it becomes something autonomic.
7. Archiving memory
Sometimes I can‘t remember things which happened, but when I find documents or photos
of “forgotten memory“, I construct something new out of this material; a new memory. Memory is never exact the same what really happened. Our brain always selects and evaluates, interprets our thoughts. An archive can help to remember things better, because it constructs a certain structure we can use as a tool. There are so many systems to built an archive. But crazy is that we navigate through different layers of time and values in an external archive while we construct different mnemosyne in our heads. In the work “Raumkonzept. Viel hat sich ereignet, viel gibt es zu erzählen“, I developed an archive
of personal, familiar and social memory with the emphasis of Nazi Germany. There were different media: copies, photos, movies, slide shows. The space was a forgotten bunker from the 2nd world war. By constructing an archive of memory from that time, the time began to move into me and people.
“I like to make me up. Do you like it?“ Make - Up ,for me, is the easiest and oldest form to change the body surface into something else. That could be in rituals of native people or every day in our culture. Make - Up is a mask I can put to give me a different look, to let me feel different, more attractive or sexy, scary, funny or grotesque. Make -Up can make a person “up“. It can hide details like scarfs or little wounds. Make -Up is like a protection from the truth. A lot of women and men are using make-Up products to change their appearance: mascara, lip-stick, powder, hairspray, eye- shadow, concealer and so on. Again: pictures from the internet, TV, magazines, cinema etc. are showing us “maked -up“ people. Almost always. I am often tempted to believe in this as a norm; and maybe other people believe in the same way. To get away from this standard we have to think about the procedure behind the picture; diets or hunger, operations, make-up artists, lightening, photoshop. Does that mean we only see lies all the time and we like that? What absurdity is that. I want to discover my knee -jerking affection for these lies knowing coevally how they are produced. Some of my art -pieces are made only by Make -Up. Therefore I took very nice -looking standard pictures of magazine models and made them over again, but with real make up. The pictures I made became grotesk and ugly.
9. Site and specificity
The site is very important for my video-performances. I choose the site very carefully, because I think an art -piece is like a net of different layers or codes. For one work, I chose the subway station into the main station of Hannover. This is the subway station where people get to the fairground, to business. My work talks especially about a job as a hostess on a fair. A job where you have to follow very strict rules and where the body becomes the function to make the commercial business more eficcient. One would not discuss or show this transforming process from a normal girl or boy to an “economic body object“ in a place where this is standard. Therefore it is is important to choose the site carefully, but it has to be open to other associations at the same time.
10. Life as performance
It is possible to see life as a performance. We are always acting in corresponding to a situation: we play roles in every different situation, from persona to persona, from one behavior into another. We decide which cloth to put on, how to talk, what to eat and much more. I would call that “Performaliation“ (Performance- Sozialisation - und Kulturation). To play with that in art helps me to rethink what seems to be consensus but is never told; you just don‘t do it because of your experience with sanctions.
11. History as a comedy
I don‘t think that history is a comedy. It is serious to talk and to reflect history. I exist due to all what happened before me. I am sure that it is helpful to handle it as a comedy. We should laugh about ourselves in present and reminding the past.
I test the otherness in myself to -maybe- touch the otherness of other people. How different from what I think is myself can I be?
13. The uncontemporary
Uncontemporary means not only traditional. The uncontemporary is maybe timeless. It is not easy to to find the uncontemporary or the eternalness when you make art. I think that only timeless values in art survive. Values everybody understand without knowing art history or art theory.
...is when I like to come to somebody who is friendly and respectful with me. Giving the feeling of hospitality means to me to make a person feel comfortable: to eat together, to talk, to laugh. An art piece doesn‘t need to make feel people comfortable; I prefer them to feel
uncomfortable, to irritate. But in communication and relation ships with other artists, hospitality is very important to me.