“In Your Face is an installation about my facial plastic surgery. It
was first shown at the end of last year in the Vegas Gallery in London
and will have its Dutch premiere at Art Rotterdam. The installation
consists of a TV screen at eye level framed by mirror tiles. The
screen hangs in the corner so you cannot walk around it. The mirror
frame is about 20 centimeters wide which means if you look at the
monitor, you are also constantly looking at yourself. The remainder of
the exposition area fades away. The mirror confronts you with your own
reaction to the images shown on the screen.
“In Your Face tracks my facial adaptations. I wanted my eyes to
become 25% Japanese. The western male Neanderthal forehead does not
match that, so the skull had to be moved back a bit. The operation
was not a result of an artistic need to create, but a pure personal
desire coupled with a great fascination for continual transformation.
“Since I am after all an artist, the result was this feature length
film. I haven’t edited the film to a documentary length, although I
played with the idea. Such an edited version would become too
superficial and freaky. I’m no Michael Jackson.
“The film lasts six and a half hours, but is at no moment boring.
It’s not a quick fix like you see on make-over shows on TV. This is
real time. At the same time, the images are notable because some
rigorous cutting is being done on a perfect face. I’ve noticed that
that creates emotional confusion in some viewers.
“The film was made with a steady-cam whereby the camera was attached
to the camera man with a hydraulic system. It was thus possible to
create smoothly flowing movements which give the film a somewhat
luxurious, decadent feel. There were several people working on my face
simultaneously so the camera man had to literally wriggle in and out
to be able to get the best views.
“The feeling I wanted to give the viewer was that of voyeurism. He
or she becomes a part of a sort of ritual comparable to Hermann
Nitsch’s "Theatre of Orgies and Mysteries". In the performance actions
that the Austrian artist began creating in 1963, he took the drapes
which were covered in blood red paint and later displayed them as
“Most people see plastic surgery as a sort of horror operation, but
the opposite is true. The images show the surgeons’ dedication and
craftsmanship. It’s as if they are bringing a perfect 21st century
beauty into my face, as well as the face of the viewer. You see how
the surgeons follow the instructions of the chief surgeon. Yet, at the
same time, you feel that the direction of the piece is in my hands as
artist. Even though they’re cutting into my face, I’m certainly not a
suffering object. It’s more like I’m a pharaoh who’s being treated
according to his own strict orders.
“The entire piece emanates an air of respect and dedication from all
involved. That’s true as well for one of the key moments in the film –
when the surgeons peel off my face and pull it down to take away the
bone membrane and begin to saw into my skull.”
Translated by Maria Jiménez, from this Kunstbeeld article