Today I picked up 3 litres of pork blood to make final small alterations on the images i am working on for the upcoming show. I feel uplifted, inspired and alive. While making jokes with the butcher that I am about to use it for an artwork I could sense my own blood running through my veins. I realised that perhaps this is the true reason why I want to work with blood. Apart form the appealing and very special viscous quality of it and symbolic charge that it carries, I can definitely feel the attraction towards the physicality of it.
I used to make ice cream with blood while diptych was still running. I remember when I would be speaking with guests, discussing the ingredients and casually dropping blood between clove and chocolate, I would notice how people’s faces would change. I loved those moments, I could see how calibration happens and how various behaviours leak out without being able to maintain full control. Some tried to maintain coolness and show a fearless example, some became curious and energised, some would refuse eating it, people were careful or suspicious, surprised or disgusted. In any case there was always an additional layer added to the whole experience. The fact that it is something that is not commonly present in culture, plus the connection to the body, had an effect on the experience, shifting perspective and turning on a different radar of hyperawareness and reflection. This shift was such a rich source of satisfaction, many things where coming together. People were invited to asses their relationship with ethics, norms, personal preferences, ability to take risks, peer pressure etc. On top of it, part of my plan was to create something that actually tastes amazing so that after, sometimes harsh, deliberations people would receive a delicious treat as a reward for their openness to experience something out of their comfort zone.
This is a good example when concreteness comes in handy to allow access to the abstraction. Blood is such a grounded and relatable matter that there is no way someone will get unaffected by it. In another drift I was comparing writing to cutting a vein open and allowing your self to bleed. I love the conflict that lays underneath this example. The process of bleeding combined with creative flow. I think surrendering to the risk taking and inability to go against it is at the core of a good work. It doesn’t happen that often, I feel, that an artist enters such a relationship with an art form, definitely not in the realm of contemporary art. There is, of course, Hermann Nitsch and the radical avant-garde from Vienna exploring bodily fluids in their work in the 50’s, but as we moved away from our bodies in our personal spaces we also move away from it in art. There are a lot of artists who are commenting on the bodily alienation, but not many who actually create an actual confrontation with the physicality of the experience. And I can understand why, it is uncomfortable, somewhat disgusting and under a strict taboo placed upon us by the culture.
Knowing and experiencing the repulsion and discomfort, I am still attracted to work with it and explore my experience. I have a clear sense that I have been missing out on a big part of my being in the world as I was neglecting my body as a way to engage with it. Perhaps, my desire to work with blood, points to my desire to fill the gaps of discomfort in the presence of a physicality of the other and my own.
While I was picking up the blood I felt the excitement and anticipation of the conversation I will have with it. I know I will start slow and gently, carefully eloping, overcoming my limitations. When working with blood every movement gets sharper and crispier. Even carrying it in the bag back to the studio already had a charge to it. The alert feeling of doing something wrong mixed with the experience of carrying a secret in my backpack that has a potential to move people’s state of being even if for a moment, the shift of perspective, carving out a new space within their experience.