Ablutomania (Still), © Nina Resl
Clean body equals clean conscience? Washing or even purifying cleansing is rooted as a cultural technique in all human social forms. It often points beyond the immediate benefits of cleansing as a cultural metaphor has numerous mythological and ritual forms of expression. Over the period of a one-hour hand washing performance, the skin shown in the video is increasingly damaged by water, soap and a brush until blood comes out in places. The video work exaggerates the self-cleaning and body hygiene until it becomes neurotic. It is a reference to the disease which gives the work the title: Ablutomania (Latin for washing compulsion). This obsessive-compulsive disorder is usually the expression of a phobia of bacteria and infection and is often imagined as a cleansing of perceived guilt. Psychology calls this “Macbeth effect”. In the Shakespeare play of the same name, the sleepwalking Lady Macbeth obsessively washes her hands on which she hallucinates the bloodstains of the alleged victims of the murders she incites.
60 min, video performance / video installation with sound, 2009, loop