I Tried To Hear With My Heart

by Steven Cohen

The covid-19 confinement has been a real test of artistic autonomy and resourcefulness. Paying the rent, a kind of geo-politics. I worked 100% alone with only what I could find in my studio. I made many objects but only a single performance: A selfie-portrait. 23 000 people have died in France alone of covid-19. I put on my corona make-up in sacred silence wich is broken repeatedly by the sirens of ambulances. I am forbidden to go out. I am compelled to go in. My art is my trench. The thorns are from the grave of someone I love. The bat is gentle on my lips. Blameless. Like death.

The Covid bat make-up

I am a white South African jewish queer artist who lives in France and works internationally. I say this not because I need a box to lock myself in, but because I must be aware of the origins of this position I have assumed – aware of my white privilege, my experience of being raised in apartheid South Africa, questions about what post-colonial means, my orientation as a member of a historically persecuted race of jews, my intersectional position as a queer artist whose work is often made in high heels and make-up and designed for confrontation.

I need to be vigilantly conscious of the origins of my voice as an artist … when I should express my self … when as a white man I should shut the fuck up. The covid pandemic, the long months of very tight lock-down in France, have been difficult for me, as with everyone and easier than for many. A time to reflect on how tough everyday life is for marginalised people in compromised situations trying to stay afloat in a sea of systemic injustices. I tried to hear with my heart. To think. It was a time of great solitude. Bukowski wrote „drink from the well of yourself and begin again“.

From the 14 March to the 11th of May I spoke little. I wrote extensively. I created a few visual artworks. My voice was in my hands. I went out for necessities only four times in two months. I dreamed covividly. I slept little. I ate little. I spent little. I earned nothing. I invested in new ideas for my next work. I refused over two dozen interviews or propositions to create video statements for which no payment was offered. I am not mercenary, but I am not a pushover for institutions and galleries. Only really for chocolate. I wrote over 300 pages of diary, but publicly I was relatively reticent.

14 March – baboon, shelves

While everyone seemed to be desperately stocking up on food today, i spent my day on a mission to the neighbouring…

Gepostet von Steven Cohen am Samstag, 14. März 2020

8 April – anti-semitism

the anti-semitic hatred in Europe is growing. in the north of France, in the decade i have been based here, it is ever…

Gepostet von Steven Cohen am Mittwoch, 8. April 2020

9 April – Golgotha, skull shoes

many years ago, I made a public intervention/video/dance/performance art work called GOLGOTHA (place of the skull) to…

Gepostet von Steven Cohen am Donnerstag, 9. April 2020

11 April – Salaryman, Japan, free art

I am a self-employed visual and performance artist. Like millions of people throughout the world, i am in danger of…

Gepostet von Steven Cohen am Freitag, 10. April 2020

20 April – Cleaning Time, Vienna

Cleaning Time (Vienna) 2007 – an uninvited public intervention – photos: Marianne Greber … As a child growing up in…

Gepostet von Steven Cohen am Montag, 20. April 2020

10 May – Mothers Day, Family

az di mutter shreit oifen kind ‘mamser’ meg men ihr gloiben … when a mother shouts at her child ‘bastard’, you can…

Gepostet von Steven Cohen am Sonntag, 10. Mai 2020

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