Jolanda Jansen

Publication ------

July 2007

Out of MInd and Body

With an interview about my work taken by Ulay.


This publication is produced in collaboration with Velina Stoykova, Graphic design, Werkplaats Typografie Arnhem.

It contains two works I developed in the last year I studied at the Dutch Art Institute, 2006 - 2007.

                                                   La Villá

From the Villa to Me
From Her Skin to My Skin

La Villá has developed during the project; ‘For where we are we are not’, workshop at Villa Noailles, organised by the Dutch Art Institute (DAI).
Villa Noailles is located at the highest point of Hyères, in the hills above the Mediterranean coast, in France. The villa is designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens as a winter resort for the aristocratic couple Charles and Marie-Laure de Noailles in the 20s.During my wanderings trough corridors and rooms the resistive building and the story’s of Marie-Laure Noailles come slowly to life.

Performance 1

I am filming Myself with my Camera
My Camera is recording through my Laptop
My Laptop is connected with the Beamer
The Beamer is projecting on the Wall
The Wall is watched by You
You are looking at Me

With your eyes you look at me. We know that we are looked at. In my mind I watch how you are looking at me.

We surround us with images we like and images we think others like. It is interesting how an unreal image tells something about our mind. By making an image we give a perception of reality.

With a camera I look at me. I make an image and you perceive.

Jolanda Jansen





     Frank Uwe Laysiepen (Ulay)

Ulay's work in photography has long been concerned to evade certain perceived limitations in the medium. Susan Sonntag wrote in On Photography, for example, "the limit of photographic knowledge of the world is that, while it can goad conscience, it can, finally, never be ethical or political knowledge. The knowledge
gained through still photographs will always be some kind of sentimentalism, whether cynical or humanist." Yet Frank Uwe Laysiepen's close linkage of photography with performance evades this limit somewhat. By focusing on his own life crisis, and those of others, as they are actually happening he tied the medium to ethical reality. As he remarked, "if I am doing a performance I have to be present." This involves the cause of a greater ethical authority of performance during the anti-aesthetic era of the 1960s and 70s. And much the same could be said of Ulay's confrontation with the issue of identity.
In terms of the various categories of photography, I would characterize Frank Uwe
Laysiepen's approach as ontological - meaning that he is always seeking to ground his
photographic work in the real. Strategies to accomplish this have included: auto-photography,
with its direct reflection of the author closing the cognitive loop; the combination of
photography with elements of performance, which root it in actual experience;
and the Polaroid photography, which eliminates some of the mediating processes to more
directly reflect the object.
Ulay's work involves an attempt to capture the real object in its conditions of time and space. It is thus that
photography led him to performance and, more recently, performance has returned him to photography.

Thomas McEvilley, The First Act, Verlag Cantz 1984.


    Ulay interview with JJ, April 25, 2007

Out of Mind and Body

U. What made you decide to use your body as the primary medium for artistic expression, and when?

JJ. The reason was a personal one, because I’m very conscious of my ‘bodily physicality’, including its attractiveness and unattractiveness and the reactions of people to my body. Also, my own feelings greatly influence my perception – I see, or want to see, what I feel and how I feel. In 1994 I made my first work in relation to my body, Like a Virgin, in which I tried to express ‘the innocence of self-deception’.

U. Who influenced you in the way you work with your body?

JJ. Among others Marina Abramovic, Elke Krystufek, and Cindy Sherman. I see the latter as my icon. But I was also fascinated by ‘make-over’ shows on TV, in which unattractive people, or rather people who feel unattractive are made to look better. What I find particularly interesting is how people that have been transformed deal with their subjective identity.

U. You have staged performances in front of an audience. What did you experience?

JJ. A direct connection with the audience. A combined feeling of vulnerability and power. My body consciousness feels a powerful presence, as opposed to my rational mind. As a performer I become a I become ‘a work of art’ that has its own awareness, enabling me to experience how the viewer or the audience react to the artwork. The performer is the only medium that can make this happen.

U. You have staged performances in front of an audience as well as making performative works using media like photography, video, and sound, which also focus on your body, or rather your physicality. What is the difference between staging a performance directly in front of an audience and those ‘performative’, intimate registrations?

JJ. When you stage a performance directly in front of an audience you carry out your concept of the performance, you step into your own physical and mental construction without having experienced that specific construction and during the process you just ‘become’. There is a social context as well. When I record performative work on photo or video, I work in solitude and I am more concerned with making images. It is more controlled; I can make adjustments and react.

U. In your opinion, can a video work of a performative auto-registration of your body have the same effect as a live performance in front of an audience?

JJ. It lacks a certain dimension, but I think so, yes. The power of the image, the theme, and the content of a video work can have the same impact as a live performance. This means that the viewer or recipient is in some way affected on an emotional and/or an intellectual level.

U. Do these self-recordings (self-portraits) have anything to do with your identity? Are you searching for your own individual identity or for your identity in a broader cultural, social – as in the fabric of society –, or political context?

JJ. I am conscious of my identity, but what I am looking for in my work is a broader identity, perhaps a cultural, communal, social, or political identity.

U. Is your identity something you think or something you are or is it determined by others?

JJ. ‘Je est un autre’ – I is another (Arthur Rimbaud).

U. In a number of video works, like Floral Procession and Performance 1, you use the camera to scan your naked body from close range and to project it in its entirety on a large screen. To me as a viewer these images seem rather pornographic. Was that your intention?

JJ. Yes.

U. You said that your work is very personal, that you reveal ‘another side’ of yourself in your works. Wouldn’t it be possible to show this ‘other side’ by ‘just being yourself’ for example, or does gaining a greater knowledge of yourself have certain auto-therapeutic implications?

JJ. Apart from my morals and feelings of shame in front of others, there is a kind of self-imposed ‘taboo’ that keeps me from doing in everyday life and in public what I do in my work. When I work in solitude, when I am alone, moral criteria tend to shift in relation to a confrontational, social context.

U. When you use your body in a performance or in a more remote way, for performative registrations, do you experience your body as a medium or as something intimate and personal?

JJ. There is a huge difference between being a medium and personal involvement. In the first case you are a ‘conscious object’, you make yourself available, you suppress your ego. Personal, intimate involvement is very subjective, an image of your inner world.

U. In your short introduction to Bodily Mind you wrote that “body and mind are a unity”. I would like to add that body and mind can be ‘one’ in harmony, but that the mind is transient by nature and ultimately independent of the body. You know the expression ‘out of your mind’: when you are very angry, for example, you are usually ‘mindless’. Someone in a coma is also quite ‘mindless’. When you fall, for a split second you’re a ‘mindless’ object. We are also familiar with all the stories about ‘out-of-body’ or ‘near death’ experiences. The fakir in India controls his body but has a small mind. The yogi controls his mind and perceives his body as something that is totally subordinate and insignificant. How do you look upon these ‘entities’ and how important are they for your performative video registrations?

JJ. Because I consciously work with my body, these are crucial questions for me. In my experience, it is possible to separate your mind from your body. Physically, you can experience your limits and transcend them. The mind doesn’t have the sort of limits my body has. But for example, if I learn to control my body and my mind, it could greatly benefit my live performances as well as my performative video registrations. Apart from the mind-body ‘romance’ or ‘paradox’, I am also interested in instinctive actions, that I certainly allow to enter my work. They often arise in a flash without warning and make me do something or react in a way that wasn’t planned in my concept. Apparently our instincts are often quicker than our mind, let alone our body.

U. The physical world ultimately is a mental world, perceived by our senses, our sight, hearing, and smell, through a kind of semi contact. As you see it, is there a connection with the presentation of your video works that are projected as pure light on a wall or screen and therefore are immaterial?

JJ. In that sense my projected video works are also ‘mental images’. They are impalpable, intangible, immaterial, just like the mind. Maybe the surplus value of each art object is this intangible, mental image that everyone interprets in his or her own way.

U. In your video La Villa (2007) you focus on your immediate surroundings as if they are a second skin. You shot those architectural images of the interior of a villa in France (Villa Noailles) in the same way as the close range video scans of your body. How do you bring the surface of your body into relation with the interior of a villa?

JJ. Of course, when I record myself, my own body with a video camera, my eyes are still looking outward. What I see or watch in the meantime are my immediate surroundings as an extension of my physicality. So that I work in two directions: I am at the centre and at the same time I relate to my surroundings.



This publication by Jolanda Jansen is the result of a collaborative project between the Dutch Art Institute in Enschede and the Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem mediated by guest advisor Maureen Mooren.

With thanks: Ulay, Jan v/d Kooij
Translater: Walter van der Star
Texts: Ulay and JJ
Editing: Mariëtte Wijne
Graphic design: Velina Stoykova, Werkplaats Typografie
Concept: Velina Stoykova and JJ
Printed by: Drukkerij Ando
Paper: Opale Dialoque Gebroken Wit 90 gr of GRAFISCH PAPIER

Copyright 2007 Dutch Art Institute & JJ

Published by the Dutch Art Institute

"On the one hand, the system is 'open': if I turn on myself I make myself vulnerable, make myself available to a viewer.
On the other hand, the system is 'closed': if I both start and end the action, I’m circling myself up in myself, I’ve turned myself into a self-enclosed object: The viewer is left outside, the viewer is put in a position of a voyeur."

       Vitto Acconci

/ Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art, A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings, page 763 /


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