"Boundaries", "Spider & Mouse" Gallery, Moscow
"Denotation of a body", performance

Aug. 1995. Workshops “INTERSTUDIO”, Zapasny Palace, Tsarskoe Selo

“The Denotation of a Body”

Mirror, marker, stickers with various images.

I strip off slowly in front of the window.
One by one I name each part of my body.
I write the names of body parts on the mirror.
I encircle them erasing the inscriptions.
I create my mirror “look-alike”.
I glue on stickers with images on the obtained picture
I dress myself.

Duration: 45 minutes

P.S. Performance is produced in front of a video camera and with no audience.

The mirror body of Liza Morozova

Sergei Seregin

When Alice looked into the mirror, she couldn’t see herself in it, and even if she could, she wouldn’t recognise herself. And she is perfectly right in her non-recognition, because the one who is not self is the Other (A-Lice), more so if the one is behind the glass. A kitten or a puppy usually tries to touch the reflection or look behind the mirror: they assume that the other kitten or puppy plays with them. Alice, if we are loyal to Carroll, in fact can see everything except her own double. She doesn’t need this reflection, she accepts herself entirely, she is not going to distance from herself in order to look at Alice from the outside. In our case Liza-child doesn’t need to examine the behind-the-mirror A-Liza. One recognises oneself not in the reflection but in the feeling “I exist here and now”.

As long as the self which can be detached from the whole is absent, so is the necessity of the Other. Or like this: as long as the centre and the periphery are merged with the self, the boundary between the self and the Other doesn’t exist. The Other is no more than a territory occupied by the self. The cognition of the self comes not through examination but through feeling and touching when self communicates with self. Here there is no such a thing as body as yet (at least not as a question or a problem), just one self flying through the Emptiness. Maybe that’s why kids don’t make performances or to be more precise the only thing they do is performance - they live in the condition of performance.

Self-identification goes in parallel with the discrediting of the original continuous wholeness of the self, which presupposes itself as a centre and is able to detach itself from the body, detach its own body as a body of the Other. It is this Other that the self wants to recognise in the mirror. Moreover, the self which desires to return to the continuous wholeness of the self, must accept the Other, appropriate it as Self/Other. Prior to this it has to detach the Other from the self completely and thus recreate, so that the self and the Other could merge.

Liza’s “mirror” performance could be read as a ritual, which embraces several stages:

Stage 1. Preparation of the ritual space and attributes of the ritual

Stage 2. Undressing as the strongest indication of sociality – desocialisation of the body. Removal of the cross – return of the Other to exodus, to the pre-religious condition of the new-born baby – regression and emancipation of the body from the care of the divine powers.

Stage 3. Bringing various parts of the new twin-body into being, verbal denotation (naming), written (non-verbal) denotation, creating (drawing) the ideal twin-body on the model of the old one – because the new body should possess all qualities of the old one, so that the continuity of time is not interrupted.

Stage 4. Rebirth of the body through animation of the twin-body and through merging the animated ideal body with the self.

Stage 5. Symbolisation of the twin-body as an archetype of corporality.

The self appropriated the body of the Other. Liza retreats from the mirror, but now there is an ideal twin-body, body-archetype – the new Other in the mirror. There is always a temptation to overturn the opposition – to suggest that Liza (self) and A-Liza (Other) swapped their roles. And do I really know where the self is – to this or the other side of the mirror? And what is left of the body which went through these mirror perturbations? Maybe a smile of the Cheshire Cat? Or just a smile? Perhaps, a slightly sad one…

“Boundaries” Exhibition catalogue, Spider&Mouse Gallery, Moscow, Sep. 1995

History | Projects | Gallery | Members | Press | Contact Us