Identity & Self/Staging

by Kristina Lutscher

Whenever an artist brings himself into the picture, stages or projects himself, the scene becomes a disquisition about his person.

The body in front of the camera, which leaves its place as the initiator of the recording process, is at the same time an individual and everyman, simultaneously a reference to the “real”, living body of the artist and to his staged likeness. It is an indefinable subject, on the one hand a part of its creator, with, on the other hand, an autonomous existence.

While this dichotomy can be found in performance-art, albeit united in time and place, the video, in particular with its visual dispositive, opens a breach. The screen and the projection are the framework within which identity is subject. It is the severance of time and place which make it at all possible to display one’s own self there. Face and hands, voice and breathing often invoke, in the sense of a (self) portrait, the body as a whole.

Identity emerges particularly there where changes are made. Modifications to the video material transform the pictures from mere self-portrayal to self-staging. In this context, Yvonne Spielmann refers to the media theorist Marshall McLuhan, who describes this shift, with reference to the myth of Narcissus, as a medial escalation or amputation by perceptual overload. The artistic identity inundates the surface of the televisions and screens and is no longer merely an image of the artist’s body, but also creates a counterpart of every viewer, who in this way becomes part of the process of observation and, in the last resort, also observes a reflection of himself.

In this connection, academic literature repeatedly refers to formative video artists such as Vito Acconci, Bruce Naumann, Anna Winteler; artists such as Ulrike Rosenbach, Joan Jonas and VALIE EXPORT, are important representatives for the examination of identity, and femininity or gender. (Kristina Lutscher)

See Oswald, Anjy: Sexy Lies in Videotapes – Künstlerische Selbstinszenierung im Video um 1970. Gebr. Mann Verlag Berlin, 2003, S.204;2007. / Vgl. Meyer-Stoll, Christina: „Wer ist man, wo endet man, und wo beginnt der andere?“ In: Das innere Befinden. Das Bild des Menschen in der Videokunst der 90er Jahre. Ausstellungskatalog Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein 2001, S. 7- 17.
See Schubiger, Irene: Selbstdarstellung in der Videokunst. Zwischen Performance und „Self-Editing“. Dietrich Reimer Verlag GmbH 2004.
See Spielmann, Yvonne: Video – das reflexive Medium. Suhrkamp Frankfurt am Main 2005, S. 230 – 232. Narziss, der in einem Teich sein Spiegelbild erblickt, verliebt sich nach McLuhan zwar in ein Abbild seines Selbst, jedoch damit nicht automatisch in sich selbst, da er sein Abbild (hier: analog zum Videobild) nicht mit sich gleich setzt. Es bleibt eine (notwendige) Ausweitung in ein anderes Medium. Neu zu lesen ist in diesem Kontext auch Lacans Spiegeltheorie, die schon von Chrstian Metz auf das Kino (und sein Dispositiv) angewendet wurde, aber eventuell auch hier Anwendung finden könnte. Vgl. Metz, Christian: Der imaginäre Signifikant. Psychoanalyse und Kino. Münster: Nodus 2000.
Image: Ale Bachlechner, This Is Not A Competition, 2016 © Ale Bachlechner

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