When I was tattooing in Vilnius, a girl wrote me, 'I would like you to get a tattoo of alien looking into the mirror.' I get her. An alien looking into the mirror. This is how I felt many times. One of the most vivid memories with the mirror comes from childhood. It was my birthday and I was maybe six, or maybe eight. I woke up and ran to the bathroom to see if I had changed. Unfortunately, there was terrible disappointment waiting me there. No significant changes! And I thought that birthday is a day which brings big, visible changes!
But disappointments with mirror didn't stop there. When I was older, I remember myself standing in front of the same mirror, gazing at the reflection, and silently asking self, 'who are you, creature?', and then the tears started to run my cheeks. I didn't know.
My uncle used to call me 'sene', he would say I'm an old woman in a child's body, because I would enjoy spending time and talking to adults and felt more meaning in it, that playing with kids my age.
So what I suppose to do, I barely felt this little body of mine is me. Should I keep looking into mirror and cry? There must be an answer, if there is a question. And if there is no solution - it is not a problem.
IL NOUS RESTE TOUTE UNE VIE POUR PLEURER
There was no culture of selfies yet when I was growing up. We would make physical copies of photos and would give them to each other. The first camera I got was called 'Muiline' ('Soap holder', because of the shape), it had a film inside, but you could not immediately see the results of your action. So then I took the first selfie. And after sending the film with the simple post office and receiving the pics back I saw how it turned out - it was all blurry and ridiculous. This didn't answer my question either, who is this creature? When I get into something I can get pretty obsessed. So started to take as many pictures as possible, turning it all into the investigation of who I am. Maybe others know the answer? If I gaze long enough into their eyes, will I see the real ME?
Times changes and so the technologies. Phones with cameras became our mirrors. Yet, there we little answers, but many questions.
L’ENFER, C’EST LES AUTRES
'Hell is other people' - even this phrase is associated with Sartre, sme sources claim that he never said it. The best known English translation of the play, by Paul Bowles, actually renders the line 'Hell is just – other people.' Sartre says that the Other – that which is not ourselves – is, or can be, a source of our distress.
Sartre spelled out this meaning in a talk that preceded a recording of the play issued in 1965:
. . .“hell is other people” has always been misunderstood. It has been thought that what I meant by that was that our relations with other people are always poisoned, that they are invariably hellish relations. But what I really mean is something totally different. I mean that if relations with someone else are twisted, vitiated, then that other person can only be hell. Why? Because. . . when we think about ourselves, when we try to know ourselves, . . . we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. Into whatever I say about myself someone else’s judgment always enters. Into whatever I feel within myself someone else’s judgment enters. . . . But that does not at all mean that one cannot have relations with other people. It simply brings out the capital importance of all other people for each one of us.
The Other, Sartre says in the quotation, is that by which we define ourselves, and the punishment of his three characters is that they will only ever be able to define themselves through the distorting mirrors of other people who reflect them badly, while at the same time they see themselves reflected badly in others as well. Estelle says, “When I can’t see myself in the mirror, I can’t even feel myself, and I begin to wonder if I exist at all.” Inez promises to be an accurate mirror for Estelle in order to seduce her. Sartre uses the idea of the mirror to great effect in the play – there are none in hell, and in order to see themselves, as it were, from the outside, the characters have to rely on the way that others see them.
In the sense described here, although a character, not Sartre, speaks the words “Hell is other people,” Sartre actually does say this same thing in his writings. In fact, the concept that our self-knowledge as a product of the way we see ourselves in the Other is a fundamental principle of his philosophy.
WHEN I CAN’T SEE MYSELF IN THE MIRROR, I CAN’T EVEN FEEL MYSELF, AND I BEGIN TO WONDER IF I EXIST AT ALL.
There's no answer in the mirror. There's no answer in photos. There is no answer in the phone screen. There is no answer in your eyes.
It gives me no peace. I get obbessed with figuring out about the way we look at ourselves and each other. Well, what others think about it, I came up with idea to publish a d.i.y. fanzine and ask. I called it 'Excessive Voyeurism'.
'All these flavours and you choose to be Zalty. What a joint. I am the lord of water! I an the fixed water sign! I should buy a boat. Have you Met Agwe? If alive - may the sea foam milk, if dead - may the sea foam blood. The twelwe brothers call Žilvinas the Serpent from the sea and kill him using scythes. Eglė turns her children and herself into trees. They cut the trees. Build a waterpark. It burns down. There must be some Ellis between your world and mine. For I am the first and the last. I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one.' - Shaltmira
Am I here just to watch and witness it all? Investigation of the way the gaze works just got some tones of fetishism. Extremely observant to the pathological level! The one, who sees it all! If all game consist just of rising questions - let's play, let me grab my mask. I went to Berlin and got myself three white masks. I painted them with sigils and symbols.
CREATE A GAME THAT OTHERS WOULD LIKE TO JOIN: COSMOGENESIS
'CTHULTHU FHTAGN! On his submerged island R'lyeh The Great Old one sleeps, waiting for the stars to be right, we call The One sleeping for aeons, we bring the end of time if necessary. Lucy Dream without major flaws communication today, the procedure as such is quite simple. We are in the swimming pool, added salt for results to be even better. And one of great importance is to be really really tired. or rather totally exhausted. Both physically, mentally and emotionally. You can surely think of several ways how to enter this state. Visualize your favourite Cthulthu story, do not fall asleep. Start to whirl counter-clockwise faster and faster and roar: TAULYWATCH, YNAFRLTHA'FDA, WECN'CLUH, GTALATHETRF. Scribble a sigil on the toast and eat it. Bread-crumb the way back to consensual reality.' - Shaltmira
Before creating physical masks - I would paint my face, it was prelude into the world of masks. By creating different face - I would create a different character. Each face paint had it's own story. It could be understood as body-art. I liked to connected with shamanic roots, and once I started doing rituals in urban areas - I called it Urban Shamanism. COSMOGENESIS is about giving birth to self, it is about understanding self and Universe as one.
Playing with masks is playing with the concept of persona. I fancy the word 'gamification' to describe all these practices. I started alone, questioning self, 'who is this person?' now I pick up the mask and make others to question as well. The word 'persona' is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. In Japan there's a saying that a human being has three faces: one is shown to everybody, other - just to close friends and family, and the third - to nobody. There were three masks I had then. One I wore myself, other gave to a friend and third I gave to nobody.
When I was growing up, a 1994 American fantasy superhero comedy film - THE MASK, was one of my favorite. We had VHS tape with it and would watch it on loop. 'It's like it brings your innermost desires up to life.' - says Jim Carrey in the movie. The main thing that attracted Jim Carrey to the project was the chance for him to act out some of his favorite cartoon characters. The Mask is not a fixed character but an entity with no name trapped inside an old jade mask. Once putting on the old mask, the wearer becomes endowed with superpowers capable of bending reality, but the mask brings out the wearer's dark personality, let's the 'shadow self' to act freely as well. The mask in the film said to contain the spirit of the Norse God Loki. Loki often runs afoul not only of societal expectations, but also of what we might call “the laws of nature.”
How the mask works? How it gives seemingly divine powers to the simple human being, to timid bank clerk? The philologist Eldar Heide in his research into Nordic folklore from periods more recent than the Viking Age, noticed that Loki often appears in contexts that liken him to a knot on a thread. In fact, in later Icelandic usage, the common noun loki even means “knot” or “tangle.” Spiders are sometimes referred to as loki in a metaphorical sense, as their webs are compared to the fish nets (which are made from a series of knots and loops) that Loki crafts in certain surviving Viking Age myths. From all of this, the most straightforward meaning of Loki’s name would seem to be “Knot” or “Tangle.”
There is a mask, but somebody created it first and if Loki's spirint was bindied to it, somebody performed the action of binding the spirit to the mask as well. Must be a work of some wizzard, witch or sorcerer! Some actions needed to be made in order to achieve it's purpose. The mask was activated. Mask served as the bridge, empowering the one, who wore it. Mask was the persona created, through which one could speak freely, act freely, do seemingly the impossible.
I like how recently media and people are freaking out at Jim’s spiritual nihilism. Yes, life has no other meaning than the one you create for yourself. Yes, career doesn’t make you happy, you make yourself happy. Life is for living, life is a game, we are playing with forms, all is energy. The one who is making others laugh is always the saddest. Yes, there’s no point to wait for others give you permission to create. Not everything that is created must end up in exhibitions or be sold. Heartbreaks are lessons, art is medicine. Non attachment to self is liberating as much as depressing.
UNITE AND EMPOWER
I created a mask. I drew some sigils on it and activated it via rituals. Eris and Lilith was speaking through me now. How I will use all that comes to me? I decided to go to meditate on the top of the pyramid of the Sun. I felt that my purpose is to share the experience I was having, to share the wisdom of the Old Ones, celebrate the empathy, transfer the energy, unite and empower. Here's a game, in this world where sex sells - let's make empathy sexy. Let's call our gathering SATANIC ORGY. Let's make it all look sound as a low brow joke while we will be sitting in peace on the top, contemplating the human condition, holding hands and being grateful for meeting, for the union of those who first we linked in world's wide web. We mirror each other, we are joined in this sacred action, we believe all is as suppose to be. Our game - our rules. We create our own reality. The stick has two ends, we play with the stick: when we talk about sex - we talk about love. When we say orgy - we sit still. As Loki was a trickster so are we. Those who will see beyond - will build a bridge.
"Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled." -The Kybalion.
I AM THE BRIDGE
I made a mask, created a game, invited others to join and then I made a movie. I connected with those who are questioning as well for this mission, for this assault on consensual reality . This is more than a movie, this is a video sigil, hypersigil. It connects us and it enables us to believe, that there's more than sees the eye. That the mental wall can be broken. It gives hope and purpose, it reduces alienation. You, who stare at the mirror and ask, 'who am I?' are not alone. There are many of us.
'Today's reality is endless divisions between human race, fueled by media. Our goal is to work towards restoring the balance in the media, by pouring our data into the chaotic information stream. By connecting, meeting and collaborating, we strengthen the connection between each other as individual. You are not alone. You are not powerless. You are not disconnected. Our I AM THE BRIDGE project is here to show, that each of us are linked to each other, each of us is THE BRIDGE, connecting your inner realm to everything what surrounds you. Let's feel that connectivity. Let's celebrate our unity. We are here to empower each other.' - Shaltmira
Recently I AM THE BRIDGE was selected to be showed at 'Concrete Dream Film Festival'. SInce it was created, I showed it during my performances all around the world, from Los Angeles to Šakiai. I would like to thank you all, Dan Smith for editing all the material, Michael Cashmore for the music and for everyone who participated, who joined the game.
'Start to notice the experience of your body. A pleasure or pain. Allow your body to be as it is. This is the way how the things are right now. Feel the tension, breath into it. And relax into vastness, rest your body in openness of space. You are the bridge between your thoughts and reality. Feel the space around your body, relax into vastness where your Life Energy is held. Charge #MeSee and you will see me.' - Shaltmira
MEDIA MAGICIANS RISE
'Death is riding Media Chimera, screens there, where faces should be, and I run from it, crossing the wall, being the bridge, as the Lilith flew from heavens, so do I leave the the concept of tangible reality, I am the bridge between Eros and Thanatos.' - Shaltmira
Only way to fight the propaganda of division that first comes from politics via media is to create the antidote, create your egregore of Media Chimera, which not divides, but unites. 'This game is over', is Death is whispering, but I embrace it as the merciful mother. I see you, Mara. I clearly recognize the reality of fear that lives in each human heart. I rise my pen, my brush, my camera and by this action I resist the stagnation and apathy, that I'm trying to be hypnotized into by Media Chimeras.
'The biggest and the greatest job that artists can do in their life is to create their own Universe. Courage is Action.' - Shaltmira.
And then I came back to my country, after all these year and journeys, and they ask me, 'what is courage?'. Now I can say one thing, the courage is to question. And for those who see the questioning as a rebelling against God, either that would be certain social norms, religious dogmas, political ideologies - I would like to give a banana, a fruit of alternative knowledge.