skull and bones (fiberglass), 3 prints on rayon (each 150x290cm), video, 2018
Katharina Swoboda’s works are executed in diverse media and often navigate between the realms of nature and culture, telling of the actors who reside in their overlaps. Her installation Vampiric infection (2018) consists of a video, two prints on textile panels, and gilded bone and skull replicas. The latter was modelled after the artist’s head with a brick inserted in the jaw.
The departure point for this work was Swoboda’s field research at the so-called “vampire graves”, which were discovered in different sites in Bulgaria. One such finding in the seaside town of Sozopol can be seen in the video. Following ancient customs, the bodies of the undead were pinned down to their graves with iron or heavy bricks to keep them away from the living.
Swoboda reflects upon this ritual, while connecting the figure of the vampire with that of the femme fatale, the vamp in the video’s narration – both are tragic beings who, owed to their reputation as cross-border creatures and trouble makers, had to be kept under control. Furthermore, the artist is interested in the figure of the female vampire in terms of her emancipatory potential: on the one hand, as an imaginary creature, which, neither human nor animal, is able to transcend the prevailing categories of social order. On the other, the figure has been successfully appropriated and commercialised by pop culture ever since – a fact the artist highlights with the golden colour of the skull and bones.
- Vampiric Infection. Sewon Art Space, Yogyakarta, ID 2018 http://www.sewonartspace.org/
- Operaismo Naturale: Ecology of the Event. Curated by Dimitrina Sevova. Ancient Bath Plovdiv, BG 2018
- Out Of The Box///Instant Magic Series, Æther, Sofia, BG