(c) Laura Stoll, 2018. Photography: Peter Kainz

Catharsis | The lost faces


Installation and performance. Inkpen on paper, tea tray, pu-erh tea.
Are you odd or eccentric, dramatic, emotional or erratic, anxious or fearful? Are you a narcissist or paranoid? Are you normal?
Personality disorders are a class of mental disorders affecting one out of ten people. Women are more often borderline personality disordered or dependent, men are more often antisocial or obsessive-compulsive. According to Freud, it all has to do with our parents. There are many things we usually do not talk about. Mental problems can be an exclusion criterion for life insurances and receiving civil-servant status. But hardly anyone is normal.
Have a cup of tea with me.
Gong Fu tea ceremony 工夫茶
1. Heating the tea set
2. Washing the tea
3. Infusing the tea
4. Nod your head or tap down with three fingers to express your gratitude for the tea
5. Hold the cup with three fingers
6. See the colour of the tea
7. Smell the tea
8. Taste the tea. Empty the cup in three sips
Eight 八 is a lucky number.

The lost faces

3 Objects. Plaster.
The lost faces are a snapshot of an ongoing material research preparing a series dealing with identity in connection to facial features. Despite the presented works being live masks (taken from someone who is still alive), the gain of popularity of death masks during the 19th century marked a turn in commemorative culture and mourning from ritual to personal. A temporal parallel can be drawn to an increased need for proof of identity and origin in times of emerging mass production.
This shift is also interesting in regard of how we define ourselves as humans: In research, the differentiation between the first women and men and genetically very similar apes is often made by the investigating how the remains are found. If it was buried, it was human.

Laura Stoll is a Vienna-based multi-media artist. She was born in Innsbruck and studied medicine in Berlin with a focus on psychiatry. She has lived in China for some time, which has changed her way of seeing the world and thinking about it greatly.
Recently, she has been researching questions of personal identity - we have a sense of self, although this is hard to conceptualise using classical philosophical terms. Through her inquiry, pinning down a person with the help of either face masks or personality questionnaires as used in clinical contexts, consulting and lifestyle magazines is contrasted with rituals inclined to eliminate or sublimate the individual.


Fact Box

Catharsis | The lost faces
June 05, 2018