dionysos andronis : qualis artifex pereo (2008)



In filming this Swedish actionist performance, Aryan Kaganof returns once again to the world of body art, a favourite haunt of his for a very long time. His old classic films of Ron Athey’s extreme performances, which he shot in the 1990s, are proof of his obsession with this major discipline of contemporary art.

The performance by Bo Cavefors, a master of Swedish body art, is filmed in a very poetic way by Kaganof, and took place in June 2008 in Malmo. It’s entitled "Action Number 43" and is in the same vein as his earlier performances. Bo Cavefors is lying on the ground in the beginning of the film. A zoom out from his face is the starting point for this action. The film is devised as a triptych, like one of his earlier performances which took place in 2007 in Stockholm and was called "Three Studies for a Crucifixion" after Francis Bacon’s work of the same name.

During the opening sequence of the film "Qualis Artifex Pereo", we see three actors around Cavefors, the central actor. Two women and a man watch him in silence as he masturbates and slowly readies himself for the climax in the third sequence. As Johanna Rosenqvist recites in Swedish the magical lines of Georges Bataille’s "L’Anus Solaire", Cavefors caresses himself and starts fellatio with Martin Bladh. The voyeuristic movement of the camera on parts of his body and the other actors becomes insistent and arousing. The extract of the poem she recites was written in 1931 and begins like this:

"When my face is flushed with blood, it becomes red and obscene.

It betrays at the same time, through morbid reflexes, a bloody erection and a demanding thirst for indecency and criminal debauchery.

For that reason I am not afraid to affirm that my face is a scandal and that my passions are expressed only by the JESUVE.

The terrestrial globe is covered with volcanoes, which serve as its anus.

Although this globe eats nothing, it often violently ejects the contents of its entrails.

Those contents shoot out with a racket and fall back, streaming down the sides of the Jesuve, spreading death and terror everywhere.

(this translation first appeared on the web on greylodge.org)

This opening sequence lasts for 25 minutes. Martin Bladh’s texts follow Bataille’s, and are recited by Rosenqvist. Throughout the film there is discreet music composed by the actor Martin Bladh, who wrote the music for Cavefors’ earlier performances too. It’s also worth noting that Bladh translated the extracts from Bataille’s work into Swedish.

The second sequence lasts 5 minutes and we see Cavefors and Rosenqvist getting ready to go to work, dressed in everyday clothes. The third part is, in some ways, the climax of pleasure as during this part of the film the second woman, erica li lundqvist, the singer of down in june, inserts her high heels into Cavefors’ arse as the music grows more high-pitched and monotonous. The total length of the film is 40 minutes – it’s an extraordinary triptych.

The Latin title means "The world is losing a great artist" - the Emperor Nero’s last words before committing suicide. In choosing this title, Kaganof is trying to show us that all major artistic creations arise from unbridled passion which ends in death.

translated by Lucy Lyall Grant

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