Despite the many humanitarian battles of nowadays, we have good reason to say that we do not care about each other. No matter the faces, the scars, the form of the eyes, we do not want to show ourselves as we really are. To connect with others in the everyday life, we prefer to use a secure and protecting cover, a bit like this: “https://” (Secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol). May we name this a wish for anonymity? What would be the reaction of the passengers of a city, if they met every day somebody literally covered up, dressed in a second skin? Would they join the Different? What if He is the only one not having fun?
photo: Morten Stricker
Above the Skin is an artistic and urban action that move from this need: to meet in the urban space, to show ourselves naked and covered at the same time (to say it with an oxymoron) by a second skin.
Winner of research application of the Cité internationale des Arts in partnership with the City of Paris in 2015, artist of the human relationship, Giuseppe L. Bonifati investigates the contradiction between our society as a whole, unifying, standardising, concealing differences, and the sub-communities struggling to conserve their identities, their clothes, their uniforms, their customs and beliefs. Between the Cité internationale des Arts, in the heart of Paris and La Fabrique des Pépinières in the suburban Montreuil, Giuseppe L. Bonifati found men and women from all around the world. They intersected, coexisted, but did not seem to communicate. To generate possible encounters, Giuseppe developed a paradoxical approach, borrowing “a suit”: a version of Zentai that entirely covers the body from head to toe. A kind of synthetic skin which leaves no cues to identify the wearer. In this outfit, plunged into a situation of loneliness, Giuseppe was remaining in observation in different points of the city. The project of Giuseppe L. Bonifati resonates with this formulation of the philosopher of otherness, Emmanuelle Levinas: « autrui est visage ». (P. Bonnaffè, Les Pépinières Européennes)
Urban & Social Interferences
Action & Performance
“Marche contre la Deshumanisation et l’Indifference”
After 10 km marching from Paris to Montreuil, the Artist buried his second skin in which he lived and created several encounters along 30 days.
In Hungary, suddenly one of Europe’s most anti-immigration nations with its planned border fence, it was hard to say at that time. Public opinion swung against the refugees in short time, when thousands of asylum seekers had entered Hungary. A poll in April 2015 showed that almost half of Hungarians classified themselves as anti-immigrant. The surge of xenophobia was boosted also by an explicit anti-immigration campaign from the government, displaying billboard messages in Hungarian which stirred up discriminative attitude. They featured slogans commanding to respect Hungarian culture and laws, and warning that “if you come to Hungary, you should not take Hungarians’ jobs”. Coming back to Budapest after the two months residency in Paris, this was the welcome… I therefore decided, as artist, to react by wrapping myself into a new black skin, as an immigrant. We may name this as an “act of civil disobedience” or better as an invitation to reflect on the otherness, more than ever so urgent in this country, as in all of the rest of Europe.
I had already felt the first symptoms during the flight, passing over France. But the suspicion came halfway, over the Central Eastern Alps… “Am I about to become again a foreigner?”
DIAGNOSIS & TREATMENT
My skin has become inexplicably darker, so I visited a specialist for a medical check. After several attempts to get on top of the problem, a hopeless diagnosis arrived: “You are a foreigner”. I am a foreigner, once again. What will be the treatment?”
Actions & Social Interference
“March against Dehumanization & Indifference”
The project is composed by a workshop, urban action & performance with local participants. Before the conclusive performance, the group produces several urban actions, walking through the streets of the city, interfering with the social routine and calling the attention of passengers.
“The Master of Ceremony is sitting at a long table, prepared with a special dinner for selected guests, locals and foreigners, those latters completely covered by second skin. In an unexpected moment, among them one turns to be an intruder: the one who is unalike even between the Different ones, who, under a second skin, will reveal a “third” one. What will happen instead to the cover-up of the others?
URBAN ACTIONS & PERFORMANCES