Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sonia Cillari, "As an Artist, I Need to Rest" (2009)

Artist Sonia Cillari explores the intimate, life-giving relationship between artist and art in her performance piece, As an Artist, I Need to Rest. Cillari is known for her installations that utilize technology, a trend seen in her other work, Se Mi Sei Vicino (2006) – an interactive performance piece, in which viewers can manipulate forms on a screen by moving their hands near Cillari's body. As an Artist, I Need to Rest is a more recent piece, performed first in 2009.
In As an Artist, I Need to Rest, Cillari challenges the traditional mediums used in art, instead opting for technology, and most importantly (and interestingly) herself. In this particular piece, Cillari literally breathes life into her performance, altering her breathing pattern to create different forms for the feather, or digital creature, on a large screen in front of her. The feather can take six forms, and its color can be turned black by the presence of a carbon dioxide, levels of which are measured in the exhibition space. The more viewers in the space, the darker the form – viewers become active participants in the life of the feather, just as Cillari is.
It is this relationship between creator and creation that is emphasized in Cillari's piece: how art can affect life, and how life can affect art. Cillari chooses breath to be the vehicle through which life is represented. In order to perform this 90-minute piece, Cillari practiced breathing control as she attempted to manipulate the feather so as to avoid hyperventilation. She described her performance as “exhausting”, one that required endurance and focus. While Cillari can affect the form of the feather, she herself is affected by the form that the feather takes. Of her work, Cillari states: “Breath, as the giver of life, represents keeping each other alive, a metaphor of dependence between the artist and his own creation”. This intriguing relationship between art and artist illustrates a concept that is not always evident in art: just as creator affects creation, so the creation affects the creator.

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