Confessional Stage Diving

2019 (single-channel video installation, 11:47 min; Scripted role-playing game for 8 characters; 90 min gameplay)

People may undertake social confessions for many reasons. A confession can be committed to expose a certain truth or a secret, to express love, to relieve feelings of sincere guilt, regret or remorse and to seek forgiveness and understanding from the others. At root, confessions and various other forms of exposure are simply a subset of the many ways humans have developed to use language so to make new bonds with others and themselves.

In general, as a social form of reconciliation with other members of the community, an act of public confession will often have a performative dimension.

Philosopher Hannah Arendt famously formulated how laboring for one’s basic needs did not constitute an active and political life, and that such a life was, of course, implicitly reliant on the idea of a strong private sphere (slaves, women) who would support and service the needs of those who were able to act publicly and politically. If the private life of an individual can not exist in the public, then this is a matter of a taboo, and not a personal decision.

With the turbulent emergence of numerous social-media characters and influencers, notorious troll masters, conspiracy theorists, populists and demagogues, as well as diverse resistance groups, new activists and strong political voices, a confession suddenly re-emerges in the context of call out culture and doxing.

The systems we have developed to sustain ourselves are exploiting and also amplifying our latent desire for the simplistic narratives, while the filters and walls that we build around our exclusive social networks produce a strong support to all sorts of firmly established opinions.

However, what is symptomatic is that a constant need to perform a confession, and to give testimonies through social media, is seen as something to benefit the confessant as well as their immediate social surrounding, but is mostly accepted only as long as it keeps the existing system running.

This infrastructure is still grounded comfortably in the capitalist patriarchy. As the working conditions get again drastically worse every day, the increasing speed of the internet connection and the availability of smart phones provide the internet of bodies to live their most vulnerable and precarious lives possible.

Online vigilante justice and the righteous mass sentiment are fully equipped to play a vengeful game of social annihilation.

In the end, when it comes to the public perception of what is true and what is false, a confession gets to be a close relative of the gossip. While the act of confession should have a therapeutic effect, the pleasures of gossiping are largely masochistic.

By confessing secrets to others, we are co-creating a body of information which happens to have an autonomous life.

It spreads through the networks miraculously just like a living body of an image, a sort of a meme that can transform in multiple ways without ever going back to its origins.