I grew up with the idea that one day I would change something more than just myself [Bogomir Doringer]
After countless readings together with my family of The World’s Best Fairy Tales, it was the film that introduced me into the world of fantasy. It brought me in states of levitation. It lifted me upwards at times, far above an environment that was then being demolished. I grew up in vanishing Yugoslavia, when our unique culture was still present in the film programming on local television.
Film introduced me to a layered understanding of hidden horror, human destruction and, finally, injustice. For somebody like me, who grew up in this kind of environment and thus witnessed the loss of human values due to war, it became impossible to avoid socio-political issues and thinking uncritically. I grew up with the idea that one day I would change something more than just myself; apply my experience to a creative form and bring it to others. While studying art, I noticed that my projects tended to translate the construction of the film narrative. I would arrange elements of my projects as if they were on a film timeline and then extend them within the physical space, instead of on the screen. This way, the spectator of my work could move through the work.
In my projects, I work with fabricated socio-political issues represented by mass media that I find intriguing because of their content or the way in which they are treated by media or society. I start my work from media fabrications, and use them as a basis to challenge the relationship between fiction and reality. In this respect, I take fiction as something temporary, something that has an expiry date. My socio-political subjects are often described as being ‘dark’ and ‘heavy’. I translate them into the uncanny; I try to see beyond them. Depending on the subject that I am working with, I will choose the medium to express myself. My projects work on different platforms, divided in elements that can work independently or together, thus confronting different groups of participants. This way, I hope it will lead them to think about or discuss the questions my work poses. I see myself as a storyteller.
Bogomir Doringer about his research project 'Hospitality'
The psychological and physical state of military personnel changes drastically after returning from overseas missions (Gulf, Balkan, Iraq, Afghanistan et cetera). The symptoms that they ‘host’ are recognizable to medical experts as variations of cancer, but sudden increases in incidences and mutations are causing doubts as to the nature of their illness and its causes, thus creating uncertainty and distrust. Victims sink into a state of limbo similar to that experienced by those living in the war zones the soldiers just left. In this state they wander alone in silence, expecting a solution to or explanation for their health problems, or death. In the media, the ‘horror’ experienced is known as ‘Balkan Syndrome’ or ‘Gulf Syndrome’ and the cause of the health-related problems is linked to the use of weapons containing depleted uranium (DU), as well as to the presence of invisible nanoparticles in the atmosphere, which penetrate the victim’s body.
In the exhibition space, victims and a unique collection of biopsy samples are ‘hosted’ by the ferrofluid sculpture * that transforms itself in front of the audience.
This project examines the relationship between fiction and reality, questioning the intention of ‘hospitality’** and the responsibility of those who offer it. We are uninformed ‘hosts’ exposing our bodies and minds to an aggressive transformation. This aggression is an injustice and a mistake caused by global politics and economies.
* Ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes highly magnetized in the presence of a magnetic field. It is used in medicine to detect cancer but also serves as a means to camouflage military objects. The nanoparticles of which ferrofluid consists have been identified by scientists to be similar to the nanoparticles found in the biopsies of the affected soldiers.
** The word ‘hospitality’ is derived from the Latin word hospes, which is formed from hostis, which originally meant ‘to have power’. The word host comes from the Old French word hoiste, which in turn is from the Latin word hostia, meaning ‘sacrificial victim’. In biology, it is a term for an animal or plant on or in which a parasite or commensal organism lives.
[Mix media / 5 channels video-audio installation consisting filmed interviews in HD projected on transparent blocks 80X60cm / ferrofluid sculpture / biopsy samples embedded in epoxy / Language Italian, Dutch, English Subtitles English Camera Ben Geraerts Editing Jelena Rosic Production assistance (Italy) Irene ter Stege Co- research & interviews (Italy) Irene ter Stege Production assistance ferrofluid sculpture Aneta Lesnikovska Software and assistance in installation Mirko Lazovic]
This fluid is unknown to most of the audience. It has the appearance of something that we should recognize from films; it might be dangerous but is certainly impressive. Ferrofluid is a liquid that becomes strongly polarized in the presence of a magnetic field, as shown in the images. This military nanotechnological material is used to create a seductive interactive sculpture that carries philosophical and metaphorical meaning. This also forms the conclusion of the project.
Meeting point, gathering point, memorial, religious object, totem, alien/queen …
Combination of permanent magnets and electro magnets.
First small sculptures.
First bigger sculpture, with a mess created during the process.
Details of sculpture, mixed materials.
Holographic projection/transparent blocks
My research revolved around many technical experiments, performed to help me to understand how I want to present this work, but also how to shape the project and make certain decisions. I researched filming techniques and the tangibility of materials that could help me grasp the presence that I was looking for. Tests with lighting, camera and lenses were performed, too, in order to find the best possible presentation of the people I interviewed.
In order to achieve this I performed experiments with a ‘holographic projection’, which is actually a modern-day version of a 19th-century illusionary technique used in theatre and known as ‘Pepper’s ghost’. To create an illusion and work with the film material, I needed a special transparent foil.
Although it worked well, I lost the volume and monumental quality that I was aiming for. Around that time I was experimenting with epoxy material, applying it to my collection of private belongings and biopsy samples.
Obviously I was in a state of despair, so I projected the moving image onto this transparent block and to my surprise the image was actually still visible.
Amazing broken light reflection as a result of projection clashed with the discovered material.
That is how I started producing bigger and different blocks.
This ultimately resulted in the present format that I am using to show the interviews: 80 x 60 cm, 2 cm thick.
Tests with projection of interviews on the transparent block.
There are five suspended blocks in the space, each of which presents one talking head at a time. They look at the audience and talk to them.
At the start of the project, I wanted to exhibit original private belongings in the space: items of military clothing, medical analyses, private photos and souvenirs from the war; different objects that are evidence of people’s involvement and their problems. During my research I came across something more personal and unique: transparent, barely visible biopsy samples containing nanoparticles that are causing these health problems. This serves to confirm the invisibility of the problem and underlines the fragility of the human body. These biopsy samples are unique and new because the nanoparticles discovered in them are at the root of a new generation of cancer and disease. At the same time, this is proof that these humans have been redesigned through mistakes made by other humans.
Maria Rosaria Ruggiero in this blue box keeps small objects of memory to her great husband Fabio Maniscalco.
Fabio Maniscalco was an Italian archeologist, specialized in the the protection of cultural property, and an essayist. He became part of the military in order to protect what he wanted most: culture and art.
Traces of time.