This book is a praise of failure and refusal. It goes against the paradigm to think positive and to present adequate and speaks about doubt, insecurity and weakness. In between of constant refusal but still not being able to realize oneself, we can meet Walter Ego. While taking a look into the abyss of his emotional state, he shares his drawings and notes that have come up during this process of radical self inquiry. His story does not have a thread running through it connecting all its parts. His story has gaps and blank spaces to be filled again with new questions instead of answers. In that sense this book can be read as a palimpsest again and again, while retelling his permanent search for a way out without having a clear destination. This can go on forever until it all falls apart into fragments of the anti-hero who tries to withdraw and is never able to arrive. In the end it deals with his overall strive toward the ability to love and to wish. His struggle is carried by a melancholic undertone, at some times subtle at others humorous, always intertwining with poetic and philosophical moments, shaped by a tireless longing for a resistive way of life beyond its instrumentality.
Walter Ego; the name says it all: „I fuck me up to save me. This is not a program!“
Oct 2016 | bahoe books | 23,5 x 15,5 cm | Broschur | 176 Seiten | € 13,00 | ISBN 978-3-903022-47-8
»They will admit you to the nut house.«
(„Do liefan´s di ein.“)
»I could also write a book.«
(„I kunnt´ a a Buach schreibm.“)
Download the book here.
Not published Introduction
This book is an auto-historical study — the outcome of a radical questioning of myself — that began about three years ago. I have made the decision to present and share it, at different moments. There are things here that, for quite a long time, I would not have been able to show because I feared seeming ashamed of not being critical enough. Or, on the other side, not being able to “sell” or present it. There was also the fear of being on the spot and experiencing ignorance and being too less.
In the end I started to draw because I could no longer bear doing performances and art as I did till that time. There was so much self-hate and suppressed pain and I couldn’t love myself. I actually started to draw in order to stop doing art. It was more a meditative technique and a means to question myself. A path to a radical inquiry of my history, childhood, origins — provincial, Austrian, working class — my sexuality, gender, dreams, desires, and wish to heal myself. These drawings were not meant to be “art”. They were rather a product of my escape from producing art and a way out of the rationalizing which was at the core of all my previous undertakings. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I mourned, sometimes I laughed while drawing or writing these things about myself.
I did not have enough time, space and commitment to produce art after graduating from artschool as I had to earn money for my two children and was not able to do a fellowship or residency. So I found myself back as a worker, and then electrician, which was my first education. I also didn’t know how to find support for art. On the one side I felt ashamed to ask for support because I thought that I have to do everything alone, and on the other side I could not present myself, not confident in what I was doing, not even aware of who I was. Actually I ran away from myself and wanted to be like “all the others” and could not accept nor feel proud of my origins.
I felt inferior because of my peripheral, provincial and working class heritage, and I was not aware of this. And due to the fact that I finished an art academy I felt this great deficit of cultural, social and intellectual capital (or that I lack something unknown and mysterious that others have but I do not) and confidence that I wanted to perform and to be super critical and political. I wanted to prove the richness of my thought to the intelligentsia, the bourgeois world, the art world, the world at all costs, and show it to be equal in value to theirs.
It didn’t work. I wanted to find out “the truth” to understand the world and take part in the production of “this” knowledge and art. I didn’t know I had to question myself and what “this” knowledge and art is. I was not aware that there is no such thing as universalism.
I got depressed and found myself more separated from the world than ever. And was a lot of rage in me. I started to fuck things up and work with shit, literally, and I wanted to show the world the uneducated barbarian bastard. I just provoked negative recognition to get attention, and because I wouldn’t have been able to deal with any esteem anyway. I couldn’t find trust in anyone, be it in working class or provincial environments, because I didn´t want to be that but wanted to be a “critical” artist (but not) or be it among artists so as to hide my inferiority, all the while not being able to talk about these issues. In this sense self-destruction was my programming for a time.
This book came out of imaginations. Active imagination. I started to use dreaming as a method of figuring out what was wrong. Yet my drawings are not just what is visible, it isn’t just what you see but what you imagine. I’m not drawing, writing or even thinking with my head but with my body. It is my source of inspiration but it is also a gesture to write. I wrote in many different life situations. In factories working 8-12 hour shifts where my body began to move to the rhythm of the machines I served. Once, at a machine for welding metal parts, I increased my work rate managing to save 5 to 10 seconds every minute in order to write one or two lines of poetry. Or at another factory putting frozen bread rolls into plastic bags and boxes for hours on end. Or delivering newspapers by car at night. Writing was for me sometimes a practice to get out of my head during work, and to reconnect with my body that started to “dance” to the rhythm of the automatized movements of the work performance.
Sometimes I lay down. Sometimes I am writing while walking. For a while I used the toilet to wait and find out what is inscribed in my body, and what I am reading, and respond to it. I fuse personal narrative with theoretical reflection and other people’s personal narratives and theoretical reflections. I am trying to transform myself through imagination and projection. I both try to remember my personal history and simultaneously forget what I incorporated, what I was taught to learn, believe and to take for granted.
Well, my aim is not to classify or name what I am doing as this is not about creating a manual or universal theory. In the end it’s a lot about waiting and forgetting. Waiting in order to get “ready” and learning to forget in order to remember. One may call it re-inventist loopings. Yet another meditation. Whatsoever.
You may have seen or read images and stories and probably never considered it art. And you may perceive the book as a whole, as unfinished, incomplete, fragmented and that there is something missing. Sometimes I don’t understand the whole meaning of something myself. There is also unconscious stuff. But I am aware that this is the case whether it be a Gesamtkunstwerk or a work of genius. Neither do I pretend to be a genius. Yet the powerful generative force of transformative genius transforms me. It transforms my self to open up a space for new connections between me and the world, like you now.
So feel free also to write in the drawings and stories and expand them. Fill them up like the Chinese poets and painters did to fulfil the work, to create a common cause. These drawings and stories should not be seen as sacred works of art, not to be touched or changed. They cannot save you on their own. I am also no longer interested in the passion-of-the-lonely-artists’-soul-drama, but in using art, imagination and projection to play together, to amuse and to entertain ourselves. So copy, expand, re-read, re-write, colour it in, have fun, mourn, share ...
I want to dedicate this book to all those losers the non-functioning, disobedient failures, the inquiring ones, the disintegratables, those suffering racial, sexual, patriarchal or religious discrimination, the disadvantaged, no-confidence, ashamed, depressed and lost ones. For a change it will be anti-heroic, it is a question that reclaims romanticism from clichés and fantasies of paradise. For a political or personal change takes effort and will. It does not come out of the blue but requires the risk involved in looking deeply at what we lack, fears and wounds like those found on our dark sides, weaknesses and failures. Those who recognize themselves in this book shall take a step forward. May you go through it, read and re-read it. And I hope to persuade you to tear off, with all your strength, any shame and feelings of worthlessness.
I leave the art machine to its destiny and take leave of the idea that there is a supreme human activity named art which by means of a subject ‒ an artist ‒ realizes itself in a work. At a certain moment it was my decision to realize or carry through this book as an act of will to share this with the world, with you.
I am not an artist.
This is my hobby.
I aspire to fail in art
in order to realize my life
as a work of art without
I fuck me up to save me.
This is not a program.