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Where is my boat?


multimedia performance, 15 min. (with Amanda Koelman)

The multimedia performance was held during "Exhibitions of a day" workshop curated by Mark Kremer, as a result of the research project

Good Trip Bad Trip 1, part of the Dutch Art Institute program.

Annex of the Fine Art School in Athens, Crete, GR

“White is a colour, the perception which is evoked by light that stimulates all three types of colour sensitive cone cells in the human eye in nearly equal amount and with high brightness compared to the surroundings. A white visual stimulation will be void of hue and greyness.”

Wyszecki & Stiles. Colour Science, 1982, p. 506.

The multimedia performance created by Catalina Nistor and entitled Where is my boat? presents the concept of identity as a kaleidoscopic web of ideas and images seemingly projected superficially and interchangeably onto (the body of) any one individual. Identity, normally speaking, presupposes itself to be as clean and as clear-cut as the separation of black and white, or even the singular experience of the colour white. It is a presupposition that neglects to take into account the complexity and multitude that constitutes what an identity is, similar to what we deem the colour white to be regardless of its actual makeup. We commonly regard white as a symbol of purity, or simplicity, when white itself is a combination and so a container for all of the colours, making it anything but simple and certainly anything but pure. Catalina Nistor responds to this notion of identity with the line, Where is my boat? A statement that echoes but also questions the erroneous concept and presupposition that suggests that identity is the vessel, in its singularity, that will take one through life, an understanding that contradicts and discounts a multi-faceted notion of what might compose an identity. Nistor unable to find where or precisely what that boat actually was set out to make her own boat, building it out of paper; a life size origami boat and a perfect metaphor for the unstable idea.

Seeking then to fill the boat, the artist produced a video/animation from a series of self-portraits depicting her as archetypal modes, personalities or identities. The archetypes were then placed into the boat as animated figures, who were then simply made to walk in line, each in turn becoming the central figure; at the center of the boat was the whitened out surface of the artist’s own body. The fragmenting of the self into a series of personalities called attention to the schizophrenic nature of what may constitute an identity. Identity becomes interchangeable, similar to outfits of clothing, willfully going in and out of fashion for no other reason than the fact that there, at that precise moment, is how it is; a collection of histories and experiences cumulatively creating the one and then present state.

The artist suitably mixing techniques and disciplines from all areas, created with her performance a level ground for a multitude of media to come into play. The performance started with the artist standing motionless and becoming the receiver for the projected self-portraits. She then set herself free from these images by moving out into the space and walking towards the opposing wall, whereupon she had her outer shape traced out for her. The end of the performance consisted of cutting the suspended boat away from its strings. The boat falling to the floor was then folded up, and though now it was small enough to carry, the artist rather chose to leave it aside to drift away.


Text written by Taf Hassam and edited in cooperation with Mark Kremer.