The two recent simultaneous solo exhibitions by Regina Frank (Mebkirch, Germany, 1965), Silenced Science (Silenced Science) at the Natural History Museum and Silenced Sides (Silent Sides) at the António Prates Gallery, showed a unique artistic path, affirming a ritual practice of performance, enhanced by his encounters with reference figures such as John Cage or Marina Abramovic in the early 1990s. They are distinguished tributaries of silence to express their environmental concerns, the urgency of spirituality, the slow gesture, the poetic time, the intuition spontaneous, the state of contemplation.
In a fair highlight, CPS was associated with this event, with a set of photographs that mark 30 years of the artist's performance in various museums in the USA, Asia and Europe and the Screen Print "The Other Side of the Screen" resulting from the unprecedented performance of the artist at Atelier CPS which was recorded on video.
With these editions, CPS introduces a new artistic discipline, Performance. What is its context and relevance for today?
In our daily lives, especially with the recent crisis, we are more in need of something essential. The performance is a transformance of the moment into a complete presence, it is created out of the moment for the moment and for the audience present. When it is truly spontaneous unrehearsed and open, something magical can happen, the performer and the audience become one and in that process they evolve together. It is more relevant than ever because the performance can help transform those moments into a full reality, without any conceptual attachments to a religious idea. All the rituals that come up in my performances are connecting with ancient traditions from a very old self, a beginning of history, thousands of years back.
As I perform in slow motion, I slow down time and try to take us to that place where time and space melt into the point of illusion they are.
In a performance you spent 49 days in the same place. In what way are the selected images a memory and document of this living experience that constitutes each performance?
Yes that was Hermes Mistress. It was even longer. But I stayed inside there without leaving the installation for 7x7 days. The longest performance took 28 years.
The images are an important trigger for me because they really capture the feeling of the time. I try with each photograph to capture the essence of that process and presence. They are very important documents and the only product that comes from it. I am not very attached to the product for me it is more about the process, but those images are the materialisation of memories, moments of history and like this are precious.
In addition to the performance in the window of Galeria António Prates, on the opening day, you performed another performance at Atelier CPS that deals directly with the technique itself – the serigraphic screen. Can you summarize this last one?
It was a precious moment. First I was an hour late because I couldn’t find parking. That was such a complete zen exercise that I arrived with a very different mindset. Then I arranged the background with colors. And one of the pots of mixed colors dropped on my completely new sandals and my foot. It was hilarious, i just laughed. but once I sat infront of the screen looking through its fine shimmering web, all just fell into place and i zoomed into my self and painted the five screens from an ancient place. I love those paintings. Once I had all the paintings I asked to make contrasted images. And then the process of composition began. I I realized that I have 5x5x5 x 3000. So the outcome is endless, I could play with these five paintings for 28 years every day again and would create a different print. But then the decision was easy, I chose my favourite colours: a golden yellow - warm rich and saturated, a warm full red that reminded me of Caravaggio Saint Jerome Writing, with a tint of a blueish accent, a turquoise that is used in many mosques and arabic tiles, a deep ultramarine blue ( which is the colour beyond the sea) originally made from the healing stone lapis lazuli which has healing powers releasing stress and bringing deep peace. And a violet purple for the last layer the highest frequency. The colors mixed very well and evolved onto of each other.
Where is the other side?
That is a good question as the other side is also no side. It is that realm where we meet our true self that is independent from all existence, perfectly in peace with all that is. The other side is when you fall into emptiness and abundance at the same time where all and nothing and neither nor is present. And then that side even doesn`t exist… I would prefer to stay there all the time… but maybe once you get used to it, it is not as delicious as when you connect to it after being on the “world” side for a while.
Each screen frame of your Screen print (On the Other Side of the Screen) was done on slow motion. The result is powerful very dynamic. How do you explain?
As I work in slow motion I slow down time to such a point that it becomes incredibly accelerated. The mind, released from space time constraint, starts to fly. That is why maybe the slow motion painting almost looks like an explosion of colour. Sometimes when you sit still you travel fastest, because you enter another vehicle. this is how you have to imagine this slow motion painting technique. When you run you reach a destination even though you move a lot with your body. When you sit still in an airplane its a different thing. This slow motion is a bit like an airplane…. I enter sit still and take off (laughs).
What importance do you give to the graphic work and the multiple in the context of your work?
It is like breathing for me since I was 4 years old. I always found peace and quiet in drawing, it helped me feel balanced and happy and I needed it like food. My best friend was not a toy — it was my pencil. I told him everything. I had it at night next to me and in the morning it went back into my pocket, like a lucky charm. My mother kept a lot of the drawings in boxes, sprayed them with hairspray, dated them and archived them. I won a few prizes as a child, my drawings went on the cover of phone books — I never really cared but everyone else did. It just made me happy to draw and the stories I could tell to the paper. It made my life manageable somehow.
For 35 years I drew every day at least a doodle, in school I was allowed to draw during class, because I always knew the answer to the question, and so the drawing would help me to not blurt it out. I withdrew to ask a polite question when I was sure that the teacher was wrong. That gave me enough credit to dream in class at some point and to focus on my inner world. At university I spend all my time experimenting with the facilities. Printing, welding, woodwork, photography, sculpture… it was paradise. I was so dedicated, so driven, that my teacher gave me his keys when he left and let me work during the night.
While I was doing my masters I had already my third museum show that time at MOCA in Los Angelos. All my work had been sold or on display. So I showed sketches and prototypes only and told them about my process. I showed them a video of my Performance at the Museum of Contemporary Art and did a lecture performance. Baselitz and Katharina Sieverding were very impressed. But I had a feeling that most of the other professors didn’t really grasp it. But my graphic work saved my Master’s degree. It has always served to be understandable for the more traditional collectors to respond to my work. It always was a way to finance large ephemeral performance projects. I made collages with the leftover fabrics from my dresses, drawings, and prints as a memory and to finance. It is something I learned from Christo. It is also a great way to create memories.
When I started to do digital work it had the advantage that I wasn’t using so much paper. I travelled with one carry on suitcase for 21 years and sent the material things back to storage. It was an advantage to produce less things that had weight and volume. So I switched to digital doodles. It’s not the same but now my phone was with me. And tried to breath performance, make everything into a performance too, with the same consciousness and attention live every moment with full attention and give yourself to the present like a present, like a gift.
What would you like to convey to young collectors and lovers of your work?
It means a lot to me if private collectors buy my work. I have mainly sold to museums, or collectors that have their collections on display, but I love when my work hangs in a living room. Many times I don’t know where it went and when I see it I am so pleased. I collect the images also that collectors share with me of their wall. In one my work is between a Robert Rauschenberg and a Sol LeWitt. Another next to a Marcel Duchamp. This was surprising to me because for those collectors my work costs peanuts. Therefore I have more work in houses that do not collect Bluechip and collect for love of the work and to decorate their home or office. A lot of millennials connect to it, because of my digital side and GenZ loves it because it reminds them of something that they know for ages, It is a piece of my heart that goes there and I feel blessed to have this profession.
How does direct contact with art contribute to the improvement of contemporary society?
For me the arts, including music, film and theatre, are the most important impact in our live. Today I have a feeling that film connects more with the people. Museums are a fairly recent Phenomena, from the 17th century. First art was on the walls of caves, then art was in churches, temples and castles. Only with the Wunderkammer (chamber of miracles) you had something like a museum) and later with the opening of the Uffizi Galleries a real art museum. Those places were a space where people spend prescious time in contemplation, refreshing their spiritual connection with their true self. Either this happened there or in nature.
Now we are a bit lost. We have TV and Cinema, Science and Museums and temples no matter from what religion are not so cool. Our connection to nature is limited or distracted by our phones and the vehicles we use to get to nature.
in one year, we sleep 118 days if we sleep 8 hours, and we spend at least 50 days on the phone. How many days do we spend watching the clouds, connecting with nature, art, science, and our true self, the universal energy, god, allah, jahwhe… call it what you want. art can be a pointer to the essential, but then again the essential is not visible to the eyes… (Laughs)
Rarely there were paintings in people’s homes.
Now we have galleries and collectors and investors, and a market. We have churches, palaces and a lot of everything but nothing seems to satisfy us. the irony is that the more we have the more we seem to want. (Starts to sing) I can`t get no satisfaction. Art can show you the way back. It is one of those ways. Meditation is another. Dance music… all ways to connect to that timeless one that connects everything.
In a dizzying global world, what is currently expected of an artist?
I have no idea, (Laughs). From myself I expect to be a vehicle. To be the brush lead by an imaginary hand to transform, transcend and to create awareness, maybe to bring some beauty. Michelangelo said: the sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material. Just cut the crap and find the essence. (laughs)