Written by Aleksandras Rimdžius
Who is this attractive woman, hiding behind a strange pseudonym of Kyrahm Mutazioni Profane or just Kyrahm? Interesting, courageous, provocative – a bit more than just a conceptual art performer from Rome’s underground. The essence of her art comes from extremely abstract, existing on the edges of art post – porn, body – art culture also from sources from and reproduced meanings of specific contexts (such as religion and mythology).
A certain key, letting us understand the essence of this art better, can be the finished communication studies and her thesis on art transformation in the era of computer advancement. We could probably call her one of distinct followers of the famous Marshall McLuhan and his statement that any media is, at the same time, information in itself (The Medium is the Message). In 1999, when she was 19 years old, she became the winner of Mythos competition as the best in the conceptual art category. She is actively participating gallery activity in Italy, she is a student and a co-worker of sculptor Dominico Pesce. In 2007, she meets the chameleonic performer of Drag King performances (on this occasion – women, who are transforming into men, in Drag Queen’s case – men into women) Julius Kaiser. Together these women began an era of collaboration and experimenting, the development of artist’s speech, game of installations, playing with gender roles and imitation of their unavoidable tragedy of their relationship, as well as the organization of experimental performances.
The first fruit of their collaboration – a performance “Obsolescence of the Kind”. In 2008, this work was in top 30, formed annually by US art explorers and art critics, of the best gender problematic reflecting performances in the world. After a year, this tandem successfully performed in a contemporary art exhibition “The Thread of Ariadne”.
This is the formal part, now let’s go a bit deeper.
In the eternal city, to which all the world’s roads lead to; in the city, where there is a chimney that can draw the attention of millions of Christians. Beneath this surface, from first sight with their own goal, dark and macabre underground clubs. One of them – Extreem Gender Art movement, to which our article’s heroes belong to. The beginning of this phenomenon – 2008, its main accent – search of new artistic expressions (devoting special attention to the potentially censored ones) and experimental music workshops.
Whilst creating, these artists follow a principle that everything in their art that is happening has really to happen: real blood, bodies and their wounds. It is like a whiff of fresh air, refreshing things that, as it would seem, have already become self – explanatory – such as sacrality and gender. Off course, when talking about this, we all can quote the first paragraph Wikipedia level definitions and they will be completely correct, on the other hand, does anything can be more of an obstruction to understand something deeper than the dictate of absolute correctness? And to us this is especially relevant, we are living in the time of vast social changes and it seems, whether we want it or not, but we have to overthink the concepts of genders, get rid of slowing factors and stereotypes. Moreover, loudly talking minorities encourage a value conflict — gay processions, the famous gender loops program. Unavoidable changes probably can be harmful.
Probably the most impressive Kyrahm’s work – triptych “Human installations” that in the end of last year, in New York, won the Celeste prize. It’s like the essence of the movement and artists’ (Ron Athey, Franco B, Annie Sprinkle, Stelarc…) pieces in itself absorbed cloth.
In the first part of “Gender obsolescence” the problematic of transformation, mutation, metamorphosis is being emphasised. In this piece, as much as in any other works, the creator’s tendency to take over certain expression forms of theater, to reduce them and to use in her own way is clear. Here, gender is looked at not as a given or constant but as daily created new reality. Man and woman – their essence and masks. The trans – sexuality, the gender change to trans – sexual is not an act of becoming, it’s more an act of going back, discovering of your true self
Another similar, with constant movement associated performance is “Ingemisco”(it. Moan, a term often used in music). Its essence is womanhood and what a woman has to go through on the road to social recognition. Here, Kyrahm is like from its mollusk escaped Botticeli’s Venus, “dressed” in white roses and till blood stuck needles, it’s not a painting anymore, it’s a real, life human being. Opera’s soloist’s Sergio Panajia’s performed Verdi’s Requiem not only reflects her pain stepping towards the dreamed ideal but also the given flowers reflect, maybe at least the naive, self – deception.
It’s not a very original form of expression: Franco B in his famous performance “I miss You” walked around naked with bloody feet, Gina Pane tried to present her message by climbing a razor blade seasoned ladder, I remembered that recently I walked on CAC Belarusian artists’ road inscribed with small humps and had the pleasure to experience what shoes with heals wearing women experience every day, as well as context: for example Carolee Schneemann does not avoid observing his body in the context of other (social) bodies and artist and rock music performer Kembra Pfahler expressed her protest against conservative, human needs in society binding norms… by sowing up her labia.
In the triptych’s last, third part of “Sacrifice”, a painfully familiar story of God’s son is repeated.
It’s like symbiosis of body – art and Christian Iconographic (there is really a blood crying statue of Saint Mary in USA Sacramento, California state). In this performance, in which Bloody Circus band is also participating, everything is real: blood, needles, crucifixion and the moment, during which blood crying Kyrahm attains the sacral dimension and ‘Jesus’ becomes a simple mortal. It’s an act of washing away all the evil known to man — sickness, wars, homophobia. This work is an oddish tribute to HIV infected performance artist R. Athey and with environment pollution and homophobia battling Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens.
Whilst thinking about the ethic and aesthetic legitimation of such act, about whether a line had not been crossed whilst screwing around, I remembered the famous Valie Export and her masterpiece “Remote…remote”.
Blood and milk is a deep in cultural consciousness etched image elastically relative to risk: from one side, because of nonsense forced actions it can gather some danger, signs of dirtiness (I, myself, heard a story about pus infected and dirty milk in soviet collective farms), on the other hand, the act is performed consciously and with a certain intention (not to infect someone, of course), probably, to reach some purgation, also it’s a very selfless, intimate act: even scalding can be helpless against an infection.
Risk, it’s, probably, what affects us the most. It’s doubtful that in face stuck needles could not cause any emotion. We are living in an actively violence consuming society and we are getting more and more tolerant towards it: you won’t impact audience with some not real violence. I think that from a moral point of view such art is similar to wounded animals’ images, painted in Lascaux caves in France, Francisco Guera’s War disasters (Los Desastres de la Guera) or a shot to Chris Burden’s arm in an art gallery.
Before the triptych, Kyrahm locked herself in a coffin – canon for thirty hours. Her basic needs were supplied by her mother. This act tells about the hustled miscommunication between a daughter and a mother, at the same time alerting about the dangers of closing yourself from other people. The triviality of communication is reflected by a dialogue of these two women:
- Are you dead or just sleeping?
- I’m alive, don’t you hear that I’m breathing?
- I thought – it’s only the wind soughing.
Maybe this performance tries to show, even if ridiculously, that we should tack between the right to privacy and inter – human values very carefully.
How could we summarize the work of this artist? We can notice the unavoidability of an impossible, unstrung, deceitful communication in all of her performances: by gender dictate men and women, different generations and their topicalities representing family members and even not looking to one another personifications of the Saints. Every figure represents either a joint or a separate – contrary pole. These are performances of monologues, not dialogues. On the other hand, the emotional relation, humanity and the sensation of the other (maybe even not known to him) is always there. It’s like deeply hidden but talking to us, with little drops of blood from the cry of wounded souls, tragedies of a lost but not giving up man.
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