APPLE II (with Kolatt)

Video performance, 15 min 22 sec, 1920 x 1080, 2016. Collaboration with Myanmar performance artist Kolatt. Recorded July 2016, at Iaspis, Stockholm.

I hold the camera. I press record. This is a conversation. He’s sitting on a chair, he’s naked. He’s got his eyes covered with duct tape. He’s chewing on an apple, then he spits it out, on the floor at his feet. There’s another apple hanging, circling around his head. “You can make a gesture to dismiss knowledge, but you can’t really avoid it” — he comments. 

Now he’s got thick black permanent markers in his hand. He’s got his eyes covered with duct tape. There are sheets of paper on the wall, and on the floor at his bare feet. He’s drawing lines. He doesn’t stop at the edges of the sheets. He’s drawing on the wall, on the floor. The sheets make no difference. The lines make no sense. A gesture to dismiss knowledge.

I was a monk for a month — he says, then he pours paint on his body from champagne glasses. He’s got his eyes blindfolded with duct tape. It represents innocence, he says. Innocence is the lack of knowledge, he says. “Like, sometimes you don’t even know what you’re doing, you know?” — It’s knowledge that makes us blind, many of times — I reply. Blind with certainty, I mean. He’s not familiar with the expression. He’s not blind with certainty and that’s for sure. 

Why are you naked? — I ask. I want to feel the paint dripping down on me — he says. For me this is about experiencing it, it’s not just a show, I’m going through this for the first time. I never rehearse and I never repeat the same thing twice. I’d feel stupid if I did that.

I don’t like to explain — he says. But language is the most precise thing we ever had — I reply; Sure, it is annoyingly self-absorbed and full of itself. And maybe it never-ever talks about anything else but itself. He looks at me with a mischievous smile: Then why are you speaking now? 

There are things that cannot be said, he says, one of his blatant clichés he’s not ashamed to use, and he always looks like it’s the first time anybody ever said that. I agree. And the things that cannot be said don’t matter — I add, echoing the canon of my western culture. They don’t make a difference because language is like money, it’s the only valid currency — I’m trying to formulate as clearly as he does. You need to explain! You need to be able, to have the ability, to put it into words. 

No — he says, no. Yes! No! Yes! No! A hundred times yes! A billion times NO!

This ‘no’ is what Kolatt’s work is about. A stubborn, headstrong refusal of certain realities, despite their obvious inevitability. Much like a child’s waywardness, willfulness towards strict parents. It’s a gesture, I must emphasise, it is an artist statement — it’s not just unconscious, instinctive action. It’s not naivety. In spite of how it looks, despite his relatively ‘naive’ background he does indeed differentiate between his personhood and his artist self. How much of it is his own stance, and what parts of it are deliberately chosen to be represented is an open question he plays around with, as an instrument. He chooses to act as a naive artist. It gives him immunity, a defence against the discursive approaches, the explanations, the interpretations. Artist in residence, artist in resistance.