Nothing is real, everything is possible
What does it mean for you, to work on an online virtual performance?
In Synthetic Worlds, like Second Life, space, matter, body and action are radically different from the "physical world". Feelings like pain and pleasure are completely abstract, mental.
What lead to the idea for "synthetic performances"?
Eva once shot me in the hand with an airgun, I still have the scar. We didn't recorded it thou, it was just for fun, more Jackass than Chris Burden. That's how we started thinking to this reenactment. We wanted to work on something at the edge between true and fake, synthetic and natural, real and virtual, direct and mediated.
What is your motivation for re-enacting the chosen performances?
Eva and I, we hate performance art, we never quite got the point. So, we wanted to understand what made it so un-interesting to us, and reenacting these performances was the best way to figure it out. We have always been very attracted by things we don't like: Nike, the Vatican or Hollywood crap movies.
Why did you decide to use a realistic image for your avatar?
Because in our "real life" we have always been impersonating fictitious identities, from the Vatican to Nike, from the City of Viterbo to the European Parliament. Since within virtual worlds you can be whoever and whatever, we find more interesting to be ourselves.
How did you decide which artists you wanted to include in this project?
We chose actions that were particularly paradoxical if performed in a virtual world. Some of the artists whose work we reenacted really liked the project - Marina Abramovic for example was totally supportive - while others - like Valie Export - hated it.
Is there improvisation in your performances?
All objects, sets and behaviors - i.e. Vito Acconci's stage, Chris Burden's wound or the act of touching Valie Export's breasts - get designed and coded in advance, leaving no room for improvisation.
How does the public interact with you, during an enactment?
The performer and her audience only interact thorough their avatars: everything is mediated, nothing is spontaneous. More or less the opposite of what performance art is supposed to be.
How do they respond to your reenactments?
People within Second Life are generally enthusiastic, while most people in Real Life is pissed off. They see our reenactments as a joke on performance art, which they seem to regard as something almost "sacred". We get lot of emails like this one: «There is no fucking use in being somebody else in digital. BE IT FOR REAL!»
Are you sympathetic to the people who become absorbed in fantasy games like "Second Life" or who are driven to live vicariously through others' on-line lives?
Absolutely. To me there's not distinction between reality and fiction, facts and fantasy, authentic and simulated. Nothing is real, everything is possible.
What your describing sounds like the classic definition of insanity. What do you mean that there is no difference between fantasy and reality?
I am constantly making up stories, and I tell them so many times I no longer remember if things really happened that way, or if I made everything up by myself. And the funny thing is: as soon as I like the story, I really don't care.
- Conversation with Marina Abramovic (March 2007)
- Interview with Orietta Berlanda, Galleria Civica di Trento (March 2007)
- Interview with Julia Gwendolyn Schneider, Springerin (May 2007)
- Interview with Helen Stoilas, The Art Newspaper (June 2007)
- Interview with Ana Finel Honigman, Saatchi Website (June 2007)