I am male, female, tall, fat, skinny, white, black, smart, stupid. I am a mother, a sister, a daughter, a father, a son. I am old, young, beautiful, ugly. I am a teacher, unemployed. I am British, Dutch, an Arab, a Jew. I am a citizen, a freedom fighter, a terrorist.
Every qualification following “I am” is a label on the naked being of the Self.
Our being, the Self, is beyond any form, label, role or function. In the process of socialization, the self-image, the persona is formed. We internalize how others mirror us and become identified with the roles and functions we fulfil in society. This is a limitation because the Self is always more than the sum total of labels, roles and functions. Conversely, we learned to label others and contribute to their imaging. The mental self-image that is thus created is a reflected image. It is the mirroring of the Self in the external gaze. The self-image, the persona is the “mantle” the Self wears to function in the world.
The Greek mythology of Narcissus represents the theme of Self and self-image. Upon seeing his reflection in the water of a lake, the youth Narcissus becomes enamoured with the image in the water. This symbolizes the identification with the self-image. Narcissus becomes so captivated by his reflection that he forgets himself, and pining away for himself, he withers and eventually dies.
In the current era of the selfie, we have much more sophisticated mirroring devices than the water of a lake that reflect us back. We see our reflection manifold in the virtual world where the mental image of identity is everything. The problem is not so much the reflection, after all, the sky reflected in the water of the lake has great beauty. It is when we believe that the self-image is our identity; like Narcissus, we become so fascinated with the reflection, the mental image, that we overlook the Self and become alienated from our own being. The search for who you are, your true identity beyond labels, roles functions, stems from that alienation. After all, only one who has forgotten the own being embarks on a search for the Self
Materials & technics
Satin weave fabric, plexiglass, origami folding, textile pleating
To represent the Self beyond form, I have chosen the negative of the human figure. Axis Mundi is the idea that man is the connection between heaven and earth. The vertical aspect of the human figure represents the being and spirit, and the horizontal aspect represents form, and matter. I have increased the vertical aspect and elongated the human figure to emphasize the being that is overlooked.
The mantle, traditionally a symbol of role or function, represents the self-image, the persona. Cloth does not have a form of its own and has the potential to take any form. Origami folding turns the two-dimensional surface into sculpture. Fire (heat of the pleating) transforms cloth into a multi-faceted surface. The rippling of the origami folds evokes an association with water and refers to the mythology of Narcissus.
Video journal of the making process: www.annaatika.com
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