Tell me about your collaboration with WIELS. How has your experience been so far?
I have been a friend of WIELS for 15 years. It is the sixth time collaborating with WIELS. They did not have to give me a solo show because I hadn’t been working for a long time. Nonetheless, they trusted me very much and were very accommodating. Just having somebody that believes in you and sees the potential in you…I feel like Jennifer Coolidge right now [laughs]. The team is very generous. It feels like a homecoming, and I am happy that my best show until now is here. It has been a part of my journey.
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What was your creative process behind the exhibition?
Take the vacuum machine that you see here, for starters: in 2015 WIELS asked me to participate in a group show about the notion of diaspora. I decided to pack all my belongings in vacuum bags and make temporary sculptures out of them during the duration of the show. In the meantime I had moved to Athens, so my personal belongings became artworks in a state of sleep. Then they moved back and they became life. Some of these vacuum bags would constantly deflate which is very performative, having to suck the air out to keep them alive. Now for this one, you could see it as being in limbo. I had enough of this in-betweenness: it was time to let go.
I started playing with the orgone theory by Wilhelm Reich and the Kali Yuga. I was also interested in the notion of manipulation, being manipulated from the outside: what if I would manipulate for the good in my own game which is my exhibition? And what if I could create all these orgonites?
I didn’t invent this. It was a long process of finding the right people and the right modality. This whole show is a manifestation of that; it is about not giving permission to negativity in general. And whatever negativity one feels around and within, it is a process of purging and cleansing before you can add or manifest something better. In that sense, I also wanted to transform all this negativity, whether it is personal or not. I wanted to trap it.
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In reference to your text, why do you think that ‘truth’ has a negative connotation?
I think it sounded different when I wrote it, and two of my friends were telling me that people would see me as a ‘truther’ which apparently is a word. The extreme or radicalised right has had a hold on what could be behind the main narrative. Even if some of it is true, the problem is that it is so extreme and one-dimensional. This makes people avoid looking into certain things because they have been contaminated by radicalised narratives. I think looking deeper behind narratives or looking into the truth behind our existence should not be claimed by anyone. You should be able to question everything.
You used belongings of your own private life, not many people would be able to do that. How did that feel?
I had no attachment to these things anymore because they are in the past, and I cleared the past. But it was weird to edit. On the other hand, time made it so that I did not have to think too much about it, because it was a done decision. Sometimes the magic is when it just happens. It was a hard process to find the right material. I also have issues with materiality to start with. My whole life is about ether and matter. But I had no time to think things over, and it was just a purge over two months.
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How did your background as a performance artist have an influence on this installation?
I think it is just the fact that I wanted things to do, not only to be. Whether you believe it or not, whether it is energy transformers or wellness devices, for me that is already performative. And also, I am not a trained performance or theatre person, but I was like a wild card: I stumbled into it and did it. What I realise is that within performance and theatre, they think about how the public will perceive it. I think I have this mindset too, regarding how I want people to feel or act during the process. I don’t know if that is a form of manipulation.
Within performance and theatre, they think about how the public will perceive
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Your work here is very colourful and playful, but I also got an eerie feeling while looking at some objects.
Exactly. I wanted all those things to coexist. It is about getting better, and by getting better you need to let the bad out while accepting it instead of negating it. Going through this, I also realised that psychoanalysis indicates the same thing after all: face your shit and then own it. Be autonomous and do not wait for a saviour. There is nothing to waste. The best cooking that I do is out of my fridge, whatever there is. Even going through hardships and depression has value and you better use it. So everything fits, all the negatives became positives. The opening was so magical, and people did not want to leave.
Be autonomous and do not wait for a saviour
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