Interview: Zizi Rincolisky
Luca Curci talks with Zizi Rincolisky during FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES, second appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020, at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Born in 1956 in Cologne, lives and works between Brussels and Ireland. The work ‘Self Portrait’ that I am launching for the application to your festival, is part of the series ‘Only in the Other I can recognise myself’, but is well able to stand for itself. Although the content of the latter as a whole ongoing discourse indicates fragmentation by the lack of grammar, syntax and punctuation which have been set arbitrarily. In this series, the painted bodies are never represented as whole, but with disjointed body parts, the subject’s perception of imaginary other in the mirror is never ‘one’ but marked either by division or fragmentation, in the ‘Self Portrait’ it is the latter. The mouth as the devouring organ representing the subject’s limitless desire for ‘more’, w encore – en corps , the body in pain, in suffering from the limit, the border, the castrating signifier.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Zizi Rincolinsky – My background is in psychology and Lacanian psychoanalysis as well as in contemporary art. During the years 1975 to 1980 my husband Stephan Jaax worked as an assistant for the Galerie Heiner Friedrich in Cologne. Through him I met artists like Georg Baselitz, Gerhard Richter, Imi Knoebel, John Chamberlain, Donald Judd and many other artists of that generation. In 1977 Heiner Friedrich then went to New York in order to create the DIA Art foundation and asked Stephan and myself if we both could assist in setting up Walter de Maria’s ‘Earthroom’ in Soho at his gallery, which we did. A few years later I visited Walter de Marias ‘Lightening fields’ in the desert of New Mexico. My first works were installations that I made during my stay in Australia from 1990 to 1993. I named them ‘Alienation’, ‘Separation’ and ‘Songlines’, referring to the alienating effect of imposed speech on the indigenous people of the Aborigines. We are given a name, a first signifier is imposed on us, unless autistic we cannot avoid entering the realm of signification. Alienation is destiny. Jacques Lacan’s concept of the mirror stage has also influenced my artistic work. For example you talk a lot about ‘identities’, ‘fragmented’, ‘mixing’ or ‘hidden’ part of our identity. My reference to the term ‘identity’ is to Lacan’s mirror stage in which the latter is established through the identification with the little other in the mirror. In this phase the toddler is fascinated by the appearance of his reflected image on the contrary to the chimpanzee who ignores it. The child anticipates his Gestalt as ‘one’, although he is still in the stage of being ‘orthopedic’ meaning fragmented, depending on maternal care and far less developed in motor and intelligence skills than the chimpanzee baby at the same age. Lacan says now, that this specular anticipation of mastering one’s body is based on a fundamental ‘meconnaissance’ which manifests in an abyss between the way we perceive ourselves in the mirror and the way we are in the real.
I have sent you the installations ‘Am I man or am I woman’, the Ego and the other’ and ‘Body in pieces’ which all relate to the mirror stage. Thus one could say that the task of a functioning ‘identity’ is to hold our ‘I’ (Ich or Je) together even if it is divided in neuroses in order to prevent a return to this early stage of fragmentation. In schizophrenia the subject describes his head sitting 3 meters above his trunk or in Anorexia a 45 kg woman says that the body is taking the space of the whole room. In Paranoia this identity is feeble, the ‘I’ fears that others are constantly harming and attacking him or her. Thus when real fragmentation is at stake, the ‘I’ or ‘identity’ is fragile, disintegrates, cannot be held together. Different positions can be attractive for us at different stages of our lives, e.g. artist, mother, father, woman, man…, identification can shift but that doesn’t mean fragmentation but division. We are ambiguous, torn, never ‘one’ with the Ego Ideal, there is always this abyss.
LC – Which subject are you working on?
ZR – At present I am working on Final Cut 10 and Adobe Photoshop in order to create a moving – still image or a still image that contains movement – it sounds like they exclude each other which in fact they don’t. The impression of movement arises through its fragmentation. In the painting ‘Self Portrait’ the colossal, oversized mouth with its golden teeth has no relation to the child’s face. This mouth represents the oral drive, the devouring organ that cannot get enough – ‘Encore’!
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
ZR – I recently decided to move on from the painted image of the ‘Self Portrait’ that was inspired by the Book of Kells and which is installed in the Palazzo Albrizzi in Venice. During my recent stay in Venice I visited the Palazzo Franchetti, went on their masked tour and found myself startled in front of the lithography by Andy Warhol showing Marilyn Monroe. What immediately struck my mind was to represent her in a different way, focusing not so much on the technique of the lithograph and it’s infinite reproduction but on her individuality, referring to her destructive childhood which conducted to her suicide. Thus I am currently experimenting on the best possible way to summarize this in an image. When visiting Venice in September this year, I observed the different ways or styles of representing the human being during the ‘Quattro’ versus the ‘Cinquecento’. The figures of the first were static and the color of gold was predominant. During the Cinquecento the movement of the voluptuous body dominated, gold wasn’t present. If I compare my ‘Self-Portrait’ to the one that I am currently working on, there will be no gold but grey and dull colors in the background of an empty masquerade. Thus my style will slightly change.
LC – What is your creative process like?
ZR – Difficult- what is the creative process. I am thinking about my work during the banal activities of daily life. But then, when I am sitting down in the confined space of my studio the ideas really take shape and I am able to work with them.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in the society? And the contemporary art?
ZR – The artist should produce work that evoke desire in the spectator, to address this gap- abyss of division and temporarily shutting it down by giving him or her the sensation of ‘One’. In other words the work should represent what Koehler calls the ‘Aha Erlebnis’, an experience of perceiving an object of the ‘completeness’ of its parts as a Whole. Thus contemporary art is important for society as it offers this possibility to open up this new perspective for every subject.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
ZR – The theme of the festival directly corresponds to the fragmentation represented in my work, concerning the content of the printed text as well as the one of the painted image. Your vision of art in my understanding promotes talents to come forward and to exhibit their works. It also aims at an exchange of ideas and creating a dialogue. I think that your incentive is great, but suggest to involve top gallerists to take part in the selection process in order to generate good quality art works.
LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this exhibition? How is it connected to the theme of the entire festival?
ZR – The personal message linked was the jouissance or joy-suffering of going beyond ‘Borders’ , limits and rules that society imposes on us in order to function as a community. My artwork relates to the oral drive, to the big insatiable devouring mouth that can never get enough. A dysfunctional oral drive shows in the Obesity or Anorexia of children.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
ZR – It was very well organized by the members of ‘Its Liquid Group’. I would like to have more information sent to me relating to the entire festival afterwards.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us?
ZR – Yes, I would like to collaborate in terms of exhibiting at other venues in the future. I am going to apply for ‘Canvas’ in London with my new work.
LC – What do you think about our services? Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
ZR – Yes, I do think it could if its members continuously make an effort to introduce the work of the artists to collectors, galleries and art foundations.