M.K.: How is your artwork related to pain? Can your performance be described as masochistic?
E.B.: Pain in the context of this artwork (“Charlie-Charlie”, “Art is Beautiful” and ‘’I Trust You’’) operates as an element of my own art language, an exaggeration that I have chosen as the most appropriate means to express myself. In my work, pain is a self-intention. I do not “experience pain because I like to experience pain”. An artist stitching his own hand, that is hurting himself, cannot be seen as a masochist offering a spectacle to a sadistic audience. This issue is to be addressed on a different aspect, in which both the artist and the audience are exposed to pain and violence. As Francois Pluchart said, masochism exists only if we accept that risk, as a so-called sub-product of masochism; it exists in every creative activity (laughter).
M.K.: So it is not a question of necessity but a code of expression…
E.B.: Exactly, and so as to readdress masochism, in my artwork I can only adopt the fifth element of Deleuze, added in Reik’s study on masochism. That refers to the unuttered contract between the artist and the spectator, making him a participant to my pain, thus a witness of it – a subject as well as an object. In any case though, the spectator of any art kind has the right to interrupt any action that harasses him.
M.K.: What do you consider to be dangerous in such a work that uses pain?
E.B.: On that first instant, when the audience comes in first contact with the artwork, I believe that the spectator cannot focus on anything else but the “suffering body” of the artist “torturing” himself. Then the narration is simply fragmented. Pain, though, has to be considered in a wider cultural frame and not only in if and how the artist will avoid danger or how long he will resist pain. This of course is not of my interests…
M.K.: What do you believe to be dangerous in an artwork?
E.B.: I should say the absence of any trace of danger/risk in it. I believe that in the sense that an artwork has to be a threat to the established ways of thinking and a challenge to people’s consciousness.
M.K.: As I comprehend so far, an artist, in your view, is a person who addresses risks…
E.B.: The artist has started taking risks the very moment he decided to become an artist. The fact that he is exposed is a risk. But also risk is that in a way he belongs to the edge of society, being a species of a cultural hybrid as defined by Park. He is partially a participant of the social doings, so as to absorb various vibes, and partially a marginal, so as to be in a position to judge them.
M.K.: Is it then the role of art to destroy the roles?
E.B.: The roles, order, the social cohesion and the consequence. This whole orderly behaviour.
M.K.: What is your view on your communication with the audience?
E.B.: … I would like to see the spectator not entrenching himself against new expression, forms, ideas and suggestions, not to fear the rupture of what is defined and created by his identity, including, of course, his own private taboos…
My work shows a provoking character and is indeed an effort to violate the boundaries. I challenge the audience to expose themselves like I am being exposed. I try to create different ways of thinking and viewing.
M.K.: What is the role of ceremonial and religious elements in your work? Can the artist be considered a Shaman?
E.B.: The trace of the magical and ceremonial element in art is undeniable, since in the first society’s art and religion had a common ground. I use a ceremonial procedure in gestures and material aspects, which I would like to be absorbed and interpreted by the audience under various codes. The symbolic meaning of a gesture is always attributed to a ceremonial interpretation.
M.K.: What about the (inherent) violence in your work?
E.B.: Causing physical pain to myself is done in a way so as to produce thought in the same way as Pluchart states that the risk taken by the artist in his performance changes the established manners of thought for society, resulting in a confrontation with the social rules.
M.K.: Do you feel that we live in an era of a (great) lack of aesthetics and essential ideology? In this dominion of the relative…
E.B.: Sometimes I feel that the post-modern approach (and not only in arts…) operates through its excessiveness as a de-compressor of our era’s passions and desires. There is a similarity with the medieval carnival, when people entered the Lent through revels and orgies. Maybe the post-modern is the carnival of the contemporary society. Everything is provided in excess, so as to breed the need to return to the safety of rules, the originality and the absolute values. This sounds quite absolute, therefore dangerous…
M.K.: What can be considered as confined in art?
E.B.: To cast anchor. Not to be able to face ‘fluid’ situations. Repeating yourself when you are not able, anymore to justify it.
M.K.: If cast-no-anchor is the highest form of freedom, how desperate can this seek of freedom become for the artist?
E.B.: If you do not consider any situation in its excess, you do not consider it at all.
M.K.: And I suppose if you did not feel this way about it, you would not even have the urge to create. If you are not oppressed by something, is there a need for expression?
E.B.: Indeed, I could never tolerate and comprehend the saying “Well, that’s life!”, nor can I analyse it, because it loses its meaning.
M.K.: What is your view on museums and galleries?
E.B.: I would rather repeat my motto “Keep the museums open…!” To second this view, I have adopted the opinion of Leger that all museums should open when factories and companies close, that is when employees and workers finish their daily jobs!
M.K.: How do you feel about the life your work acquires beyond you?
E.B.: Well, it is weird… All this effort and the formation of an expressive language… And then artist totally loses control and cannot intervene… It takes a course that you can neither observe nor follow. An artwork has to have definitely its own course, whatever that may be, and this is its highest aim. An artwork is a statement. The artist is exposed with his work. He can judge and he is judged.
M.K.: What would you and would you not want?
E.B.: I would not want to be a product of my civilisation… contaminated by education as my mentor and friend Franko B says. I would like to forget all those things that I have read and I have seen, becoming again a tabula rasa.
I would also not want to do what I do now, that is trying to explain a work of art or art itself… it is like trying to explain life itself… the more you talk about it, the more you distance yourself from its essence.
M.K.: Your word-games (puns) -neon light sculptures- are quite glowing at first, but then the viewer left with a bittersweet taste…
E.B.: In my word-games each word refutes the meaning of another word, undermining its message, as in fact there is only one letter changing at a time (e.g. pay – pray – prey or faker – maker)*. It is indeed a cruel joke with an ironic mood, as I use humour as the only mean with which you can state truths not easily accepted if communicated in a more formal manner. I believe that the ambiguity and the irony of the work are supported by the fact that I use a purely commercial language to construct all these word games. This “neon light” language is a form of ‘language’ that we are all accustomed to, when negotiating light and attractive messages. In this work the use of this ‘language’ is reversed and it seems to reveal unconscious truths and deep thoughts, which are consciously hidden and avoided.
M.K.: What is the role of humour in your work?
E.B.: An ironic mood appears more or less in my work. To mention Rossa, irony states the opposite from what someone believes with the intention to clarify the truth (in contrast to lying which aims at deception). Comprehending irony is indeed insecure, in the sense that it imports a radical doubt, since it oscillates between totally opposite meanings. Humour has a root of revolutionary character, just like art. It has the mood to re-examine the status quo and dissolve the stereotypes of thinking and acting. I do use humour in my work for its disrespect to obedience of rules. In the same context, art is also disrespectful (not all kinds of course). This form of art is radical and revolutionary, just like a blunder can be disrespectful and provoking.
* Rice – Rich, Luck – Lack, Pain – Vain, Art – ‘Art’, Back – Black’…