This is under my skin

by Emma

THE DYING SWAN IS DYING

Performance, 25 min., KX.kampnagel, Hamburg, October 2000 and Gallery Tommy Lund, Copenhagen 2001


This performance is based around The Dying Swan’s attempt to make an lifelike image of himself on the wall.
The Dying Swan enters the room from the back. He walks towards the wall and starts to draw a picture of himself on the wall. The drawing is very simple and looks like a children’s drawing. In a cardboard box standing in the opposite corner he finds a mirror and compare the drawing with his own reflection. The drawing is to small, and he now tries to draw a line around his body which he later fill in with a strange brown colour. When comparing the colour of the paint to the colour of his own fur to, he realizes that they are not the same. After thinking a while he finds a pair of scissors and starts to cut of pieces of his own fur, which he nails on the picture on top of the paint. This continues till he ends up having totally destroyed his fur and crucified it to the wall.

Now he picks up a saw and tries to cut of his beak, but because of the metal wires in the he also needs a metal cutter before he is able to cut it of and nail it on the picture. He takes of the last piece of fur from his head and nails that on as well. The last thing he adds to the picture is his big feet, which he places on the floor under the picture as an extension of the drawing of his legs. I take of the “inner costume” made of foam as well as my papier maché head, and leave it on the floor as I leave the room through the opposite door as I entered. The performance deals with different aspects of self reflection and divisions between ideals and reality. The Dying Swan is ready to sacrifice himself in order to create the perfect image. This could be a comment on the myth of the self sacrificing artist, but to me it just as much has to do with split personalities and the experience of the gab between reality and image in general.


There is as well an aspect of self destruction and sacrifice with strong associations to crucifixion. The title not only indicate death but just as much an absurd doubleness and maybe recreation or even self creation. If “The Dying is Dying” then life must arise in some form. May
be that’s what happens when I slowly destroy the costume and reveal my body underneath. What before was The Dying Swan has now been devided into a human body and an image. But the sum doesn’t come out right. The costume and the facial expression of The Dying Swan on the wall still seems alive, but now in a form between something two dimensional and something three dimensional forced and fixed to the wall.
For the rest of the exhibition the remains of the performance was left as an image/ installation on the wall.

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