Statement - The Persistence Of Plastic

I love plastic! Plastic is immortal because it does not decay. How ever, I do. In 2012.09.27 I was hospitalized in Berlin being very ill. The diagnose was full-blown AIDS.

I spent two weeks out of this world in hallucinations caused by the fever and shock. When I returned to my senses I had to realize that my life had irreversibly changed: I was HIV-positive and had a serious pneumonia. My prognosis was very uncertain. I stared death in the eyes for months.

AIDS brought me the kind of diseases which could be cured by medication. I survived and the doctors reminded me that I was lucky. Anyhow, I had to pay a high price for my luck. AIDS also brought me a cancer called Kaposi’s Sarcoma that causes red cancer lesions on the skin. They covered my body from head to toe. I turned into a horrible monster that was marked by death. It has been over four years since I got sick but all the lesions on my limbs have not yet faded.

My document about Kaposi’s Sarcoma is internationally unique and unseen artwork because this subject has not been documented anywhere like this. The reason is that the artists during the AIDS crisis in 1980’s-90’s simply died before they got to reflect their sickness in their art. Other reason is that nowadays the condition is very rare at least in the western world.

AIDS and the marks it left on my skin and in my mind and identity have changed me forever as a person. I think it is quite funny that I have been taking pictures of plastic objects for such a long time and now I have to take plastic surgery procedures to cover the marks to be able to go on with my life. Of course my skin will never be the same as it was but I just have to accept that. I do not want to be ashamed of myself anymore.

Shame kills life. I was down that path too until I got sick and I had to face myself completely naked. I just could not cover myself anymore. I had done things that were considered shameful and I could see the marks of those actions on my skin every time I looked at myself. As a member of sexual minority I had been ashamed of things that one should not be ashamed of.

However, the more often and more openly I looked at myself I learned acceptance. I learned to accept that I had acted very stupid. I learned to accept that this is who I am. I also learned that the only way to get rid of the shame is to talk about it openly. People live in shame all the time for big or small things when they should just face themselves and ease the burden. I know I am a far more solid and stronger human being now than before my illness.

Life is here and now and you have to live it fully without shame, smiling, in order to make it worth living.

Also plastic causes shame. As one major factor in the pollution crisis plastic causes very negative associations in people. I love plastic! The Persistence Of Plastic is a series of photographs about life and death and it’s marks and traces. Plastic is traces of plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago and which time has turned into oil which man has turned in to plastic items. The circle is complete
when we manufacture almost real looking plastic toy trees. With it’s energy of death plastic imitates life. Then I take pictures and save the energy in photographs to remind us of the inevitable death but also about the funny vanity of being a human. The plastic toy tree will never decay and the traces of human being will remain on this planet forever.

I have taken all the pictures with my mobile phone camera except one shot. The pictures are like selfies that the plastic objects would take of themselves smiling wide!

The picture quality can be horrible as in larger prints you can see the pixels that are like cells that create a living dead organism, the photograph. The digital processing is also harsh: in my self-portraits it is as if I was torn off to the stage. Yet this is how it has to be because life is harsh. It tears you apart and after that it laughs at you.

But when I am at my best I am right there and laugh with it!