Surrogate (as performed in Zurich)
Performance/HD Video, 16:9, 14 min, color/sound in collaboration with Fiona Könz
In May 2017, Fiona Könz and Gregor Vogel executed the performance for the first time over a weekend in which they mostly resided at home and interacted with their social surroundings. The performance was stopped after two days, because the participants encountered boundaries that they were not willing or able to cross.
Amongst a variety of other media, the performance is documented in a 14-minute video, in which we see both artists performing in their respective roles. Alternating, the viewer sees Gregor Vogel (as Fiona Könz) playing the piano in her studio, trying out clothes, smoking, drawing Fiona‘s tattoos on his arm with a sharpie or swiping through profiles on Tinder and Fiona Könz (as Gregor Vogel) talking to one of his friends on the phone and telling her thoughts to herself and the camera.
By filming themselves in situations in which they are always (at least physically) alone by themselves, both participants offer an insight into the effects the performance has on each of them. The displayed reactions reach from comfort in the role of the other to dissatisfaction because of the disability to act as the other, to terror and extreme discomfort as a consequence of feeling the loss of one’s own identity.
The performance provides insight in how there seems to be a focus on processes rather than products when it comes to the characteristics of identity. To perceive a process like going to bed, preparing a meal or smoking a cigarette as authentically imitated, the how seems to be more crucial to the process than the what. In the interaction with people, the use of digital, text based communication has often lead to a discrepancy between expectation and reality when meeting with a person. When interacting via text messages, it is relatively easy for a person to mask his/her identity, but when it comes to a personal meeting, the exchange of roles becomes apparent (even though the performer will always try to impersonate the other).
While peers might be able to accept or even anticipate the occurrence, a complete transgression of identity in a field where its identification is crucial (e.g. passport/access card) is unthinkable. Surrogate places emphasis on the recognition of areas in which the individual is likely to produce errors and on whether or not the individual and his/her environment are able to perceive them as such.