Body Prints Vancouver: 19/05/06, performed at The Grunt Gallery, Vancouver.
This live, for the camera, event by Johannes Zits references Yves Klein's famous performance "Anthropometries of the Blue Period". In Zits's version, both men and women participated. Their bodies were painted with blue glue that was then pressed on to a prepared canvas. Their body imprints were then covered by images chosen by the participants, creating a collage portrait.
5 min. clip from the performance
By Warren Arcan
“Everything had broken down and new things had to be made out of the pieces. Collage was like an image of the revolution within me—not as it was but as it might have been.” — Kurt Schwitters
Johannes Zits (JZ) brings to the grunt another in his series of international performances called “Body Prints.”
As people enter the gallery a model is seen sitting and browsing through a collection of magazines (interior design, men’s health, fashion, porn and others), occasionally tearing out a page and setting it in a pile. People with video cameras roam about and their live feeds are projected on a wall through a video projector. A VJ mixes video images while a DJ spins; the people drink and settle in for the performance. The model disrobes, and is instructed to browse through the pile of magazines. One by one, a succession of models present their chosen images to JZ. As they do, he paints the front of their bodies (chest to knees including the genitals) with acrylic glue. JZ is seminude as well ("Never ask anybody to do anything you wouldn't do yourself”) as he interacts with them, talking and laughing, creating a bubble of intimacy, a private space within the public. He then presses them against prepared canvas (toes to the wall first) to transfer the glue: “Body Print.”
The models leave for the shower at the back of the gallery. One of the live feeds includes a shower cam and the showering model becomes part of the VJ’s mix. JZ improvises a collage with the images the models selected, affixing them to the body print. The models all undergo this process. Lastly, one of the models paints JZ. He presses himself against the canvas and applies his own choice of collage material. After JZ showers, he finishes by tearing the stray pieces of paper to conform to the shape left by the model: a row of squashed shapes, irregular rounded forms that evoke wetness, filled in with images from mass media. The projection, the collages, the DJ, and the gallery audience are videotaped and an edited version of the performance will be projected as part of the installation.
JZ’s interests include collage, intimacy, identity and meaning making; he examines and provokes the borders between the public and the private, creating instabilities and spaces for questioning.
The collage method reflects and utilizes mass media images in gestures of violence: tearing, breaking, rupture, and fracture, remodelling, reconstruction, representation, and re-representation. In “Body Prints”, JZ shows breakage and fracture lines that are already in the images as images of desired and desirable selves. Collage highlights the cheapness of mass media: The model browses in the magazine environment, looking for images that can speak for his identity and that can represent him for the purposes of JZ’s re-representations. The images are found, then ripped from their context and transformed under the “Body Prints” process.
The images chosen by the models are contained within an image of their bodies. The images are a dialogue with mass media. From across the room, we take in the series of Body Prints; the hundreds of small choices made by the models and JZ are resolved in the irregular yet human forms that have about them a sense of care and compassion.
When desire is defined as lack, this is a method of hijacking desire itself: desire is never fulfilled, never satisfied; it’s an infinite consumption or hunger. But desire is more than this infinite failure: it is productive. It creates relations and exchanges and is inexhaustive. So, I observe in JZ’s process a working at freeing desire and play: grade school glue and pictures, being messy and having fun. The DJ plays, the video plays, thoughts play over our face, JZ plays.