I was commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture Gallery in New York to make a site-specific piece about the highly regarded façade of the gallery. The façade was designed and built in 1993 by performance artist Vito Acconci and architect Stephen Holl. It comprises twelve openings of varying sizes and shapes, the lids of which pivot horizontally or vertically. The façade’s porosity expresses social aspects of architecture, which functions as a mediator between private and public spheres. In the video/performance I therefore used my face as metaphor of a façade. My eyes, mouth, ears, and nostrils may open up and offer the possibility of communication.
I built a chair for the specific purpose of filming a variety of facial configurations. These are not facial expressions, although they may resemble some. I designed and had various metal devices made for me. These contraptions attach to the chair and literally force my face into fixed expressions. After filming my face fixed by one of these contraptions for 60 minutes, I make the video recording transparent. I
then cut it into one-minute sections and layer these sections on top of each other. In this way, a one-minute video shows 60 minutes of video simultaneously. Because I am held into poses for 60-minute filming sessions, I physically exhaust myself, as parts of my face must stay fixed. My face ironically looses any one identifiable expression. Instead, these faces transform what we consider to be meaningful expressions (authentic ones) into constructed poses that in turn dissolve into grimaces.
The first 7 minutes in Fascia serve as an introduction. In this section, my head is fixed by three metal arms extending from the headrest. Most of my face, such as my eyes, mouth, and nose are free to move. I read Apollinaire’s poem about the nine gates to his lover’s body. The layering of the transparent video blurs and multiplies my facial features, while the edges of my head remain fixed and focused.
The video of the poem is followed by nine videos of my face in various configurations. In these videos, instead of fixing my head I fix some detail of my face while the head around this detail may move.