DO YOU LOVE ME? I LOVE YOU.
Endre Koronczi: Coerced Confession
Do we say it too often? Or way too scarcely? If we say it, is our timing right? Are we empathic enough? Are we loud enough? Are we kind enough? If we don't say it, why? Because we cannot? Because we don't want to? Have we screwed up for good?
For what is that hot and sweet thing that we all treasure and desire? That thing which is at the same time icy and causes sharp pain; that thing we all hate yet desire? Curse and pleasure of mankind, so far uninterpreted by biochemistry, esotery, astrology as well as all religions and philosophies. Where does love come from? Or in fact, what is it? Anyway, this general virus has been demanding victims for millennia, regardless of colour, gender, age or social class, from Cape Town to Reykjavik.
Recently Endre Koronczi has been creating works which are centred around epistemological issues that often have a psychological character. It is a kind of self-scrutiny, only it concerns issues that can be related to anyone, and are consequently easy to recognise and interpret. Universal issues. Such was his exhibition Popsynergy in Menu Point Gallery (Kunsthalle, January 2008) where his video installations examined the behaviour of the individual in collective situations. His ExtremeSleeping (Imaginary Paradise, IMPEX, December 2007) was an untiring effort to find out whether it is possible and feasible to sleep anywhere anytime, in the most extreme situations, if we very much want to. Katt (Magyar Műhely Galéria, 20 March - 11 April 2008) explores the extent of human physical and spiritual capacity. These were some of the events of Endre Koronczi's life as an artist last year. Matters, however, reached the point at which, after these diverse questions that concern all of us, Koronczi made a turnabout and drew out of his camera a video installation that overrides all previous efforts with its to-the-point timeliness.
They say every human being needs to be loved. The question is how love is verbalised. Can it be verbalised? Is it utterable or unutterable? In addition to not knowing what love really means, we even have a need to say and to have it said to us: I love you. Nevertheless, this is far from so simple, because sometimes we just can't say it however much we want to.
Endre Koronczi made interviews this time. Documentary shots of various durations. He asked people to confess their love to him in front of the camera. He invited five of his female acquaintances and five unknown women as the control group. He had separate discussions with each of them, telling them what he wanted to hear, and waited for the result. Endre Koronczi's preconception was that if he asked a person he had already known to declare herself and her love to him, then the phrase "I love you" would carry too great a weight and therefore be impossible to utter. If, on the contrary, he asked a complete stranger to do the same, the lack of import would allow the phrase to be freely said, with no consequence. The reason these recordings are so interesting is that they were made by two cameras simultaneously, allowing for the real-time simultaneous observation of the two parties' reactions. This is useful for the viewer since, despite general presumptions, it appears that neither the confessor's nor the interrogator's seat could have been easy to occupy. Koronczi generated a situation which was neither easy for those who prefer uttering this word, nor for those who never use it. The experiment was completed and Endre Koronczi got his result. We shall not reveal what, but one should feel free to discover it on one's own at Godot Gallery.
Ps: At first glance it is practically just a role-play game. No big deal, we might think. All I need to do is to say a phrase to the person facing me. Watching the videos, however, we realise that we are too big for our boots: there is some mystery about "I love you" after all, that makes one's palms sweat, whether the phrase is hollow or not, whether we understand it's meaning or not. Whether we can utter it or not. There is a system of notions applicable to everyone along emotional lines. Human stories, problems, matters of the heart are thus very similar from a certain aspect. No one is special; even the moments we believe most genuine, unrepeatable and unique, resemble others' moments, just as our uttered sentences resemble theirs. Have no illusions.
Do you love me? I love you.