What is it like to feel fear? Sedimented fear? How to move with fear?
Harnessing the advantages of the online encounter, each participant can individually, in their own bathroom, experience this performative work of laminating their own body.
Quotations from participants:
“I felt weird, you have this foreign body touching your skin and you feel some pressure all the time of that membrane you’ve made …”
“It’s not uncomfortable because the paper has a nice texture, it’s comfortable on the skin, a slight restraint, a pleasant restraint.”
“The feeling of holding you and not letting go, like something has grabbed you.”
“The hand inside that armor peels off, and it moves, it releases itself, by the very movement, it crackles. You feel which part is peeling off, which is already free, which is compressed.”
“I’m so grateful I was able to take it off.”
“The feeling of warmth and cold is interesting. When you’re heating with a hair dryer, it’s comfortable, and then, when it starts to get cold, it’s kind of unnatural that it’s cold inside. It’s inside, and it’s cold.”
“I blow dry with a hair dryer from close range, I burn, but I don’t feel it. It was scary for me. I see how the color changes, the egg white coagulates, and I don’t feel anything.”
“My leg looks like a snake’s skin when a snake sheds; the skin slowly expands and disintegrates. Dried flour separates in layers.“
photo: Andreja Hotko Pavić
Impregnated by Fear
“Art is restoration: the idea is to repair the damages that are inflicted in life, to make something that is fragmented – which is what fear and anxiety do to a person – into something whole.” – Louise Bourgeois
In different parts of the world, the pandemic has imposed serious restrictions on social life to which we are accustomed, and it has added yet another bitter note of global alienation to the notion of globalisation. At one point, the Internet was flooded with footage from various parts of Europe and other continents showing empty streets and people locked in houses. Forced into their private households, people gathered at the windows and on balconies, exposed to the looks of others, looking for their gazes, offering theirs in return. People singing or clapping together as a sign of mutual support from their solitary places on the balconies and loggias of “locked-down“ cities.
Some artists, such as Marcel Duchamp (Fountain, 1917), Claes Oldenburg (Soft Toilet, 1961) and Maurizio Cattelan (America, 2016), found inspiration for their works in the bathroom, the most intimate room in the apartment. At the time when museums are closed and street programmes put on hold, at the time of the epidemic and uncertainty that brings fear, the private bathroom area might be an adequate place to actualise different contrasting identities within the possibilities of physical perception and experience of healthy embodiment or alienation. To focus attention on a different exhibition motif and material – one’s own skin – as a medium through which a complex communication between the body and its environment takes place.
Covering a chosen part of the body, arm or leg in papier-mâché using baking paper and gluing it with egg whites or flour and drying it with a hairdryer causes rapid temperature changes to which the entire skin of the body reacts. This papier-mâché form hardens quickly, thus slowing down blood circulation and dulling the sense of touch. The form’s surface is layered and rough, the living form underneath can be moved, but this requires considerable effort.
Liberating oneself from this hard shell leads to relief, however, the body still vibrates with the remainder of the question of whether it is worse to feel immobility deep down within the organism or insensitivity on the skin surface.
 Modearte website, 17 November 2017, // Louise Bourgeois,