We interviewed the mysterious Swiss performance artists The Ljilja, who tells us how sexuality, death, fetish, and religion combine in a chaotic artistic process that leads to her work.
Pornceptual: Tell us about Ljilja and how she was born as a performer?
The Ljilja: Kierkegaard in his “the Present Age” wrote how revolutionary age is an age of action, ours is the age of advertisement and publicity. Nothing ever happens but there is immediate publicity everywhere.” Publicity, advertisement, success, fame, social media and its instant gratification, no one wants to do something definite, everyone dreams of instant fame and to feel flattered by reflections and illusions offered by this “fast food” society of Western World. Good old Baudrillard wrote how the futility of everything that comes to us from the Media is the inescapable consequence of the absolute inability of that particular stage to remain silent. In this society of spectacle we are running on emptiness disconnected from our true Self. The Ljilja was born out of necessity. In this era when most of us are showing the best parts of ourselves, the most beautiful parts, I am showing those hidden dark, disturbing parts. Our shadow. By hiding my identity, I have become no one, and by becoming no one, I have become everyone. The Ljilja is interested in primordial Self, that animal within us, that screaming pulsating primal “I”. Her main message is a call to awakening.
P: What role has sexuality in your work, and what does it represent for you?
TL: Sexuality is one of my main artistic sources. In the past, female blood and flesh were meant to be worshiped and feared. Now it’s an object. Sexual energy was a healing energy, and sexuality was honoured and considered as something sacred. Jay Onwukwe in his “Sexual Energy and transmutation” wrote how sex, the carnal root of man’s generation, can be the source of his degeneration, yet it holds the key for his regeneration. When properly harnessed the primordial powers of sex and its creative essence that initiate all earthly existence can be used as a source of healing – rebirth. Sexual desire in man or woman is natural and it shouldn’t be suppressed but it should be expressed respectfully in a way that enriches the body, stimulates the mind, and uplift the spirit in man. In the past, some villages in Ireland had a local female healer. When someone has had an “evil eye”casted on them they will go to her. She would lift her skirt and show her vulva like Sheela na Gig, and by looking at her vulva a spell would be cast off. Incredible power of femme sexual energy. My work is deeply rooted in sexual energy and it’s healing and restorative power.
P: Your work is brutal, showing explicit reference to death, fetish, and religion. How do you cope with Social Media censorship?
TL: Sexuality, death, fetish, and religion are not only deeply rooted within my art practice, but they are also an important part of our human history.
Nude was and still is such an important part of art history. It is ironic that in society where sex sells everything nude as an art form is banned from Instagram. I am fascinated with the fact how some people equate nudity with pornography. Any objectification of naked femme body is wrong on so many levels. Why does naked often mean inappropriate? That makes absolutely no sense to me. In ancient mythology our cunts had teeth, between our legs were Chaos, Cosmos, Death, Rebirth, Annihilation. The naked female body was worshiped, respected, feared and now it is covered with shame, sin, objectification. We, women used to be goddesses, priestess and sexual femme energy was considered as something sacred. And look at us now, we are barely a shadow of our ancestral heritage. We need to go back to our roots, and awaken that goddess within us and stop shaming her beauty and power. Social media censorship is just wrong and it sends the wrong message about the nude human body and sexuality.
P: What do you want to achieve in the future? What are your plans?
TL: To grow as a human being and to grow spiritually, emotionally, to have the roots of my inner being growing deeper in the darker parts of my psyche. As I will grow inwardly, I will grow outwardly, and my art practice will grow with me.
P: Which are your main inspirations?
TL: Carl Jung and his shadow work and alchemical studies, Artaud and his Theatre of Cruelty, Hijikata and his butoh body, shamanism, raw ancestral femme energy, primitive tribes and their mythology, nature, among others. I am in a constant search for selfless content and an ego free body. Transformation through creativity and connecting all over with my primal “I”. My rituals at the end are very cathartic, and through them I achieve purification. I am interested in dark parts of our being, that internal Tartarus where we have stored all our fears, pain, rage and so on. I am interested in wounding, since it is wounding that prepares primordial Self for change.