© Britta Lya Damian 2019
The strange body paint
Schlachthaus Karlsruhe, DE
(Pictures & paint by Ulrike Hass)
Most of my works around the topic of skin can be seen with a large, but also small, connections to this one happening that I called The strange body paint.
My artist friend Ulrike an I visited an old slaughterhouse with the intention to characterise the scenery into a body paint on my skin. Soon after painting my entire body in dark shades of grey and black, I had an overwhelming feeling of becoming someone or something else. I felt unrecognizable, alien to myself. Through this scary and uncanny event I learned the importance of self perception on the psyche. I realized how the body paint acted as an extension into the psyche. My skin not only acted as a canvas for paint but also as an embodied extension, something to identify myself with.
I wondered, what a self if is and how our perception of our skin influences the perception of our ‘Self'. I read into different concepts of self and found myself in the field of psychoanalysis. In the theory of the Mirror stage, Jacques Lacan explains, how the perception of our ‘Self’ is connected to the outer image. According to Lacan, the Self is an illusion, based on one’s outer image reflected in the mirror. His theory seemed to fit very well: in changing my outer image my daily identification my imagined self was interrupted and invaded by an identification with someone unknown. I realized that the obvious illusion of being someone else felt just as real as my own self, that of course made me fundamentally question the concept of having a self. The reflected image can be seen as an other, because it stems from outside our own body and can never be achieved from our own body‘s standpoint. The self thereby is not me, but an other. Especially this concept of the self as an other and the experience of body fragmentation are concepts I took with me from this experience