The Vienna artist Bianca Phos experienced such a moment in 2014. “I was on a motorbike with my friend. A car drove into us”, she recalls: “After this I spent years in therapy. This fascinated me for ages: How a system is switched off and then back on again.” The fact that Phos speaks about her body as a system is no coincidence. She is interested in the posthumanism debate (see: Donna Haraway). The accident gave her an opportunity to see everything differently. Including her art.
This sounds interesting, but how can you make art out of it? Phos starts by talking to a lot of people, to doctors, a diver, anaesthetists and soldiers, who learn techniques for suppressing the escape reflex through calm breathing. This led to the installation “Relational Breathing”. You stand under a tree and listen to breathing sounds, some hectic and some calm, running into each other. As a result, art can be experienced sensually, it touches you with great directness.
Phos uses her art for survival training. If she ever finds herself in an extreme situation again, at least she will know how to remain calm and focussed. She has a taste for left-field thinking. Have you ever considered the beauty of a simple plaster? Phos can spend ages enthusing about the way in which the holes are perfectly positioned so that the skin can breathe. Or about the rounded corners, or the medical design.