The first of 24 works in an on-going series of works by Rhine Bernardino revolving around the concept of human endurance. This involves a 24-hour collaboration of the artist with a total stranger to take a picture every minute as they kiss throughout the duration of the work process. A total of 1440 still images of the targeted 24-hour kissing marathon is stringed together into a full-minute film featuring the limitations of kissing: its shift from an intimate act to a mechanical process.
Can kissing, a primitive and instinctive act, possess a certain mechanical nature of intimacy? And can this be found when done repetitively for a duration of time in an impersonal manner with a stranger?
In this generation wherein people become more and more desensitized to various ideas and images, can intimacy be transformed and reduced into a dull and mundane activity by performing the intimate act itself through repetition in time, a process of mechanization?
Or may it just strengthen our notion of closeness, connectivity and romance, by bypassing the anxiety and uneasiness associated with strangers, especially in intercultural encounters? Regardless of detachment, its impersonal nature and cultural differences.
In Mechanized Intimacy, the artist also tries to rescue not just the body, but the embodiment of a woman, in this case, an Asian, specifically Filipino woman from how it is being mapped and labeled as a sexual, sometimes reproductive and ideological territory by the foreign male. The artist used this milieu to be her creative domain instead - adding up a sociological layer to the work.
Ultimately, the release is through breaking this notion in a role reversal. Delving away from the innocent Asian girl constantly seeking help, the artist erases naivety by inviting these foreign men in an ordeal that involves intimacy in mind and body with ranges of implications - but in a non-sexual, no-attachment and impersonal setting, a semi controlled environment with prior rules that she sets herself. The work portrays a woman who is in control of her body and her circumstance, attempting to break the stereotypical image and perception that she is culturally placed in, all the while aware that in doing so she puts herself, in what is always the case when enclosing oneself with a stranger, in a certain degree of danger.
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