Objects can tell stories about encounters, memories, and secrets. Tine Milz, dramaturge and co-director of Theater Neumarkt in Zurich, believes that one can encounter a person through their objects. That is why she asked artists Ceylan Öztrük, Teresa Vittuci, and Annina Machaz to bring an object that is dear to them to the interview they conducted for Das Wetter and that is re-published here. Below Ceylan, Teresa, and Annina explain in what way the objects are close to their hearts.
Annina and the Pleasure of the Headpiece
My object is a self-made stork helmet, a headpiece I created some time ago for one of my stage characters. This hat tells a lot about the way I work. First, I really love headpieces and almost all my stage characters are wearing them. To have something on my head inspires me and is very often a starting point. And birds have accompanied me since early on. For a performance in primary school, I made 25 budgerigars on a silk thread that should get shot on stage and fall from the sky. The teacher said: “your idea is a bit too dramatic.” I remember I was super shocked because I thought it a genius idea. I like that birds are somehow not only beautiful and free, but they can also be very scary and filthy. Often in movies, they have something eerie, and that’s a really good combination. This fine line from humor to horror is something that is interesting for me. Second, I think this object is absurd and absurdity is another element that is important in my performances. It’s cool that not everything has to be logical. I also don’t know what it means to walk around with a stork on my head, but it triggers people’s imagination. The helmet is made from papier-mâché, which is my favorite material. I like that it’s so simple and easy to work with, and you literally can make everything out of it. My father taught me how to use it. When I made this stork helmet, he was still alive, and we were talking on Zoom. He looked at me and randomly said, when Billy Wilder received an Oscar he said: “Awards are like hemorrhoids. At one point, every asshole gets it.” And I remember I was a little bit shocked, wow, okay, that’s quite vulgar, but maybe that’s also a bit true. Now always when I look at this stork helmet, it’s linked to Billy Wilder’s quote. And I have to laugh.
Teresa and the Pleasure of the Massage Gun
I chose an object that is not an artwork per se, it’s a massage gun, which is basically a pulsating device for muscle-ache relief. I like its look because it looks a bit like a drill and I always feel like a butch dyke when I’m holding it, which I love, of course. But aside from that, it has a special story. I got it on the day after my piece DOOM premiered. I was so sore from the premiere and thought, shit I won’t be able to perform tonight. I could barely walk or get out of bed. I was desperate for help but cautious of getting a massage. It felt somehow dangerous to be touched by just someone. I suddenly had this divine inspiration of buying a massage gun, even if I couldn’t afford it. My genius idea was that I’ll buy it, try it, use it until I’m able to perform again, and then I’ll return it. I know that’s a bit shady, but I was so broke, and I knew that’s the only way I´ll get through the show. I bought the device; I took it to the theater, and I never returned it. That same night the future love of my life was sitting in the audience. After the show one of the first things I said to them was: “I bought this insane massage device; you have to try it.” We still laugh about it today.
The massage gun is a tool that pulsates through my body and allows my body a reset on my own terms. Before having it, finding a way to reset my system meant being dependent on a medical professional who might be fat-phobic and putting myself in a potentially vulnerable position of laying half naked in front them. Having the agency to reset myself means that I am in a safe environment while experiencing a certain kind of release from the intense states that rehearsing and performing demand of me – which is extremely necessary. In my work my body is at once the material I work with and the tool I use to work through it. What that means is that my body allows me to be vulnerable enough to talk about the real dark places, find humor there, and to invite the other (the audience) to enter the same space. In the best case, this allows reflection and a kind of shared experience of vulnerability. It is only through my body, in relation to other bodies, that I can begin to understand and talk about how capitalism, patriarchy, and systemic oppression operate through the oppression of bodies. Fuck, that’s heavy. I´m so glad I have my massage gun!
Ceylan and the Pleasure of the Venus
The object that I chose is one of my Venus sculptures. As an artist and also personally I feel close to objects and spaces as objects. In my performances and sculptures, I get a lot of ideas and inspirations from objects and spaces. The concept of an object and also being objectified are topics that are very important to my work and my practice. This Venus sculpture is not an exact replica of the Venus of Moravany but a ceramic sculpture that resembles her and that also could function as a dildo. It carries my own narration onto Venus figurines, and these new Venus sculptures in turn question how knowledge has been shifted through certain power structures. My dildo-Venus creates an alternative to the male-dominated information stream. I first produced these Venus sculptures after a series of intervention performances as an alternative to male-dominated history references and as new narration on female bodies. There are many different speculations about the Venus figurines. I feel like this sculpture is a connection between the women who sculpted these figurines from a different time and myself. On a quantum level, Venus is the tangible common ground where time intersects and we meet on this subject with other women, from different times. That meta encounter is quite precious. But also, the shape is important for me. Normally it is displayed behind museum vitrines and having this woman-shaped object in my hands, being able to touch, hold, and own is meaningful. Also assigning a different idea of functionality in narration, it carries an idea of performativity, and it belongs to a performance of pleasure. And the object refers to a motion. To rethink art as a pleasure subject by creating an art object with the idea that you can literally insert it into yourself and find it “pleasing” in this way is humorous to me.
Read the conversation about gossip, pleasure, and humor between Ceylan, Teresa, Annina, and Tine here.