Crime and Mercy, 2016 - ongoing
(working title) online I show a selection of a much larger and ongoing project
photograms and writings by involved participants, tryptichs, 30x24 сm
photograms made by me - reversal development and chemigram on huge papers
Inside every person lives an amoral being, which preserves basic instincts, aggressive behavior, destructive impulses and states of spiritual dependence. In the same time human soul urges for freedom, rise of mercy and grace. I wanted to co-experience these hidden drives and inner conflicts in other people and the way they deal with them. Since the summer of 2016 I have invited 24 people to participate in a transgressive experiment. Each of them had to break three wine glasses - kneeling down on the ground with a stone or hammer, performing an action of force and irreversibility, close to initiation. I introduced the participants to my photo darkroom in a very subtle light and asked them to break the glasses with an instrument of their choice. My selection was a big river stone, marble paver, big steel hammer, small hammer, pliers, awl, whetstone, crusher, iron stick, huge iron chain. After the damage was done, the participants were asked to compose the particles of each broken glass on a piece of photosensitive paper, which I exposed and developed as a photogram. At the end of the performative “initiation” they were asked to write down their thoughts and emotions in a free verse or self-inquiry. Some of them were very comfortable with writing and gave me entire essays, others - especially visual artists, didn't feel like writing and gave only titles to the photograms. Quotes of these handwritings are attached below the photograms.
The “Crime and Mercy” project features professionals from different areas: visual artists, photographers, designers, architects, engineers, musicians, film directors, writers, historians, biologists, economists, managers, journalists, philosophers, etc. Each of them participated in an unique way, expressing his emotions, thoughts, doubts and insights, fear and excitement about the transgression, which was hidden to them, presented in the concept of “experimental study of creative aggression“. I made sure that none of the participants get hurt by providing safety glasses and gloves. After the participation I had a conversation with each one and I got some profound comments on the nature of social degeneration, stories about role games, thoughts on glass industry, psychological analysis of aggression and anger, even sexual backgrounds. Visual artists turned out to be very concrete on explanations about their choice of instrument and spontaneous composition. In the notes many of the participants - consciously or not, had shared a fear or a subtle feeling on the transgressive nature of their action. Fewer felt the experiment was a game or relaxation practice. Some people were not happy with breaking glasses, but were very creative in arranging the broken pieces. Some sorted them by size and shape. Others didn’t want to arrange the pieces and preferred to leave them in their chaotic piles.
The second part of "Crime and Mercy" is done entirely by me. After a period of co-experiencing I did some positive photograms in attempt to transform the archaic strength of transgression. I use the broken glasses and a single undamaged glass. I create photograms with reversal development, by cleaning the black background build up by silver halides with sulfuric acid and add some warm tones by potassium permanganate and other chemicals. These images attempt to show mercy in an ocean of violence and aggression.