1. Who are you ?
Lukas Zpira… Body Hacktivist, Photographer, Documentarian.
2. Because of Franko B, there is a general conviction that artists specializing in Body Art are mentally unstable. This mental imbalance is often attributed to some trauma one carries from his childhood. What is your opinion on it? Don’t you feel offended by this stereotype? And why is it that your scope of interests focuses on body modification?
I am unsure why Franko B’s work would lead to a general conviction that artists specialising in body art are mentally unstable. It’s not Franko B that is mentally unstable but it’s the people who say such things who are the unstable ones. I think this kind of behaviour demonstrates a lack of understanding of one’s own self rather than a ny lacking on the part of Franko B. I think people like to attribute performances that express themselves through the body, using the body’s excrements, to some sort of trauma because they don’t understand the logic behind it. The use of the body in performance art isn’t about some trauma one has experienced and as such and is damaged and can’t conceive of “socially acceptable” ways of expressing one’s self through art… It’s about expressing changes in each one of us, the affect experience has on us, how other people affect us and how we in turn affect them… By using the body to express these things we express in the best way, physically, what we experience emotionally and intellectually… Using the body in this way is the only language that can be used that will properly communicate what we are trying to say. So I suppose in response to the people who say that body art is a result of a person’s mental instability, all I can really say is that perhaps they need to look at themselves a little closer…
My scope of interests aren’t confined to body modification alone. My photography explores a variety of ideas, some of which are body modification, but also include the exploration of counter-cultures, such as that of the Vampyres. With regard to my performances I don’t see body modification or body art as an end in itself – body art is simply on of the mediums I use to express what I am trying to say.
3. What political preferences do the artists like you represent?
Political preferences? I am unsure what you mean by this. And as for other artists, I can only speak for myself. I have a very close relationship with the la Demeure du Chaos and the political ideas expressed at part of these over 2,000 art works are quite obvious… I don’t necessarily define myself with a political preference per se though. I think there are bigger, more important things happening then politics. Larger philosophical questions that resonate more deeply with me then meagre questions of politics. If I had to answer, perhaps Amour Fou as described by Hakim Bey…
4. There is a theory that says that progress in art goes along with the one in science. It becomes pretty visible on such examples as: scholasticism and the medieval Christian art, the philosophy falling under the Humanities and the art of the Renaissance, physical optics and impressionism, psychoanalysis and surrealism, medicine, with its huge subfield – transplantology and body art… What is your opinion on how this correlation will evolve in the future?
I am very interested actually in physics, especially quantum mechanics. I think there is some very interesting ideas for art that lessons from quantum mechanics can teach us. Having said that I believe that elements of quantum physics can be seen right throughout history and not in just in art. For example David Bohm, before he died, was very interested in the ideas of Jiddu Krishnamurti, who quite concisely describes how the troubles of human relationships and human thinking can be overcome by a way of thinking that marries thought, action, emotion, object, into one whole. I think this is where the challenge for art now lies. I guess, for myself, I am trying to explore some of these concepts – the body is used as an extension of the mind, as the mind, seen physically. Or what I might do in a performance – how does this change the environment around me? How does this person react? How does this experience affect (become?) the performance? These questions can then move into bigger questions about general experience of relationships and interactions. Where do I end and you begin… I guess in answer to your question, I don’t think there is a correlation between science and art, I think it’s all part of the same machine.
5. Your life motto goes: „No Body is Perfect”. Ever since, however, certain trends have been gaining in popularity, from time to time. For example: trends focusing on the “going back to nature”, as well as statements that the human body is beautiful in itself, and there is no need to additionally beautify it in an artificial way. You, as an expert on implants and scarification, surely have a distinct view on this issue. Do you find a natural, unaltered body interesting, appealing, or sexy?
To start, for me, body modification is partly about aesthetics in the way it explores different ways of seeing or experiencing the world, but I think it is more than that. As I mentioned above, I see body art as a medium and so the motto “No Body is Perfect” is much more about the physical body and the how the body is as an extension of the mind (which is also the body). In this thinking then, the motto is not about people who modify their bodies with piercings, tattoos and scarification – it’s about all bodies – nearly everybody modifies themselves in some way – be it dying their hair, shaving their legs or changing the way they do something for a lover who did not like this or that idiosyncrasy. In response to your question, I would ask you what is a natural body? A body that is born without a leg is natural but a body that has a leg removed after birth is unnatural? A body that has been badly burned and scarred as a result of exposure to a bush fire (a natural occurence) is this natural or unnatural? A modification that I put on my body as a result of past experience – natural or unnatural? If you are asking specifically whether I find people without tattoos, or brandings, etc beautiful then yes of course! I find beauty more in people who are pretty but have some imperfection. Those little imperfections are beautiful and are what make people intriguing – I find that very sexy.
6. What new does Body Hactivism bring into the field of Body Art and Body Modification ?
I think perhaps this is where some people perhaps get confused about the intent, at least on my part, of what I use body modification for – it is not an end (as I said earlier) but a medium for expression (not wanting to sound wanky – but it’s true!). Body Haktivism is more about activist activities through self expression. It’s an important distinction because it
7. Do people who change their bodies want to change the world as well?
Unfortunately not. I don’t think there’s a definite correlation between the two. There are a lot of people who get body modifications just because it’s cool and they think they’re part of a movement to change the world or they think that they are different from everyone else and know some things – but, a lot of it is often just fashion for them. It’s the same for any kind of “off-the-wall” thing that moves a little more into the mainstream. The initial thinking behind it is lost (in translation?!) so that you only end up with the effect and no one seems to remember the cause… Why they are doing this thing. It’s interesting actually if you look at how patterns develop in nature, in relationships, in life, how you can get to a point and you look back and at the different things you’ve done to get there and perhaps you can’t work out why you’ve continued to make the same mistakes over and over again even though you know it’s not going to get you where you want to go. I think people can get confused between cause and effect. Gandhi says “be the change you want to see in the world”…
8. What do you value most in art? What artists and art movements inspire you most?
Probably the most important and influential would be surrealist philosophy (not the artistic movement specifically) and pop culture has also had an important influence on my work so far such as comic book art. I am a big fan of David Nebreda’s work. For me, he is the Van Gogh of the 21st century.
9. You have a lot of tattoos on your body. What aspects influence your choice of the tattoo design? What relationship (if any) do you have with the tattoos on your body?
They are mostly representations of mind, ideas and thought… I think that language often doesn’t properly represent what goes on the mind – I think that there may not be a language that exists yet which correctly translates from pre thought (ie. not in language) to word to speech. So I say that they, my tattoos are representations of my mind, perhaps they are pre-thought, before words, emotions or feeling? And some are a little more self explanatory…
10. Satomi Zpira – what you think of the artistic achievements and activities of your wife?
Satomi is a most creative and gifted person. She is intelligent and explores concepts, feelings and emotions that embody an ongoing dialogue… I think we feed off each other creatively and as you can seen similar themes in much of both of our creative work – performances, photography, writing…
As for TokyoLoveDoll… she has been a creation, a character that grew as we grew and took on different shapes and played games with her, this creature… she is reflected light and ephemeral, beautiful and fleeting, she is a question. TokyoLoveDoll is part of Satomi’s artistic achievements I suppose but I would not call her that – I think she goes beyond artistic achievement and she goes beyond Satomi and myself – she is the Gestalt of our love… greater than the sum is its parts…
11. The Soul or the Body? Isn’t excessive focus on the body or the soul the shortest way to socio-religious fanaticism? These we very well know from the history of culture
I don’t believe in soul … I think the problem comes when people try to fragment things too much. I think the birth of socio-fanaticism occurs by creating dichotomy between, within a person, ie. the body and the soul (whether you believe in them or not) occupy the same space theoretically and i think it’s this inability to see that each are part of the same and don’t belong as separate that leads to socio-religious fanaticism… It’s separating things that cannot be separated that leads to this splitting in thought that so negatively affects society in this way…
12. Last but not least, will implants and transplants lead humanity to cyborgization? Does this vision invoke positive correlations for you?
See I think the term “cyborg” is a little old fashioned – this term was coined when much of the opportunities we have today weren’t available yet. It also depends what you mean by cyborg in any case! We have been implanting organs and pace makers into ourselve for some time now so perhaps you could argue that we are already a society of cyborgs! I also think that perhaps this term “cyborg” is a little too inflexible… this metamorphosis that we are going through is a continued evolutionary process that will not stop at becoming a “cyborg” whatever that is.
I think in order to survive we need to adapt and remain flexible and malleable. It’s hard for humans because we tend to be terribly uncomfortable with change as it is unfamiliar territory. I think things, on a mass scale, as a movement toward this kind of change, will happen slowly. More slowly then the take up of things like tattoos and piercings as the implants or nano technology will take more of a change in thinking i think… tattoos and piercings can be seen perhaps more superficially in terms of progress toward change and evolution… things like changes to genetic codes or use of nano technology will take more commitment on the part of individual toward change and evolution, so we shall see…