Body and mind: Exploring Filip Custic's 'pi(x)el' and Alex Hug's ‘Touch Again’

Multidisciplinary artists Filip Custic and Alex Hug discuss their works, along with the physical and mental preoccupations that they are built upon.

by Manu SharmaPublished on : Jul 07, 2022

Filip Custic is an artist of several disciplines. He combines video, photography, sculpture and other art forms to create works such as the one in question: restrained in a way that does not deny a deep degree of contemplation. However, pi(x)el is different from many of the other pieces in his oeuvre; in fact, it is an especially difficult work to talk about. It feels provocative, and yet to call it that may very well deny it its intention and purpose. It features a mannequin, with video screens placed over what many may think are body parts essential to our recognition of a person. As visuals of those human elements are played across the screens, we the viewers find ourselves feeling somewhat detached from the sum of the parts we are viewing, and yet not entirely so: we see those elements as part and parcel of a human body, but also on their own.

pi(x)el – filip custic Performance – Espacio Solo - 51, 2022, image, filip custic | pi(x)el | filip custic | STIRworld
pi(x)el – Filip Custic Performance – Espacio Solo - 51, 2022, image, Filip Custic Image: Filip Custic, Courtesy of Espacio SOLO

Discussing himself, Custic tells STIR, “I am a Spanish-Croatian multidisciplinary artist. I think I am inspired a lot by the human; not only the body however, but also by the mind. Human psychology interests me a great deal, and I tend to see it as feeding off of the technology that is available to us these days, along with our current living conditions. It blows my mind - the situation we live in on this planet and its particularities. I am keenly fascinated by the cultures and societies we build, the thoughts we have and the conclusions we arrive at. I try and understand how we can be so constructive and destructive at the same time. We love to build but we love to destroy too.” He continues, explaining that he observes the human body by itself, from an aesthetic perspective, not unlike one may study lions or dogs, and the artist does it in such a way so as to watch us from the outside in order to better understand our inner behaviours. He says, “I am curious to know where we come from and why we are here. I think it’s innate for us: the desire to decode our programming. I do that as well. I study us because I want to answer the question of why we have been bestowed with consciousness.”

Touch Again – Alex Hug Performance – Espacio Solo - 24, 2022, image, Alex Hug |Touch Again | Alex Hug | STIRworld
Touch Again – Alex Hug Performance – Espacio Solo - 24, 2022, image, Alex Hug Image: Alex Hug, Courtesy of Espacio SOLO

pi(x)el is Custic’s newest sculpture, which he is very happy with. It integrates his entire skillset in its production process, and Spanish speakers will find that the project’s name reveals its purpose in a rather interesting way: Custic explains, saying, “If you remove that letter x which is in brackets, you get the word “piel” which means skin. So, through this sculpture, I want to observe, study and contemplate human skin, and the importance that we give it, our relationship with our bodies and how we divide ourselves based on the particularities of our body.” Custic presents the theory that, through technology, we may end up giving less value to the human body in and of itself, and instead focus on, for lack of a better word, the human “soul”. He presents his sculpture as an “unboxing”, in line with a YouTube phenomenon wherein people film themselves unboxing various items. Such a concept typifies the times we live in and could not possibly have existed, either in its performance, or in its reception, in the recent past. The joy of an unboxing video is much like the joy of receiving a parcel in the mail, albeit felt vicariously. Custic is very aware that we live in a digital age, and ensures that we engage with his work in a manner appropriate to our times.

Touch Again – Alex Hug Performance – Certeza -, 2022, video, Alex Hug Video: Alex Hug, Oukaos Productions, Courtesy of Espacio SOLO

pi(x)el was presented by Colección SOLO, an international collection of contemporary art housed in a private museum in Puerta de Alcala, Madrid. It was shown along with the performance piece titled Touch Again, by the German-Swiss artist Alex Hug. Hug discusses her work, telling STIR, “The performance is a journey through my emotions, emotions that we all feel and that in times as uncertain as these, may very well overtake us. We often feel like avoiding them or running away from them instead of facing them. Problems like COVID, climate change, the Ukraine war and mental health issues have made me evade reality through hyperconnectivity.”

Profile Picture, 2022, Image, filip custic | pi(x)el | Espacio SOLO | STIRworld
Artist Filip Custic Image: Courtesy of Espacio SOLO

Hug believes that all this “world-pain” as she puts it, has made us lose contact, both physical and terrestrial, with the things that really matter. That is why she pursued the creation of an entire journey of emotions through Touch Again, to help people reconnect with what is truly important. In it the viewer can measure their own comfort with physical contact and emotions through a series of stations. Each station represents an emotion materialised through looms and sleeves, all worn and lived. The emotion comes to life thanks to the arm of a performer who translates into movement the thoughts of the works that are heard as an almost indecipherable murmur during the performance. The different stations with their different voices and murmurs invite the spectator to interact with them and feel them.

Profile Picture, 2022, Image, Alex Hug | pi(x)el | Espacio SOLO | STIRworld
Artist Alex Hug Image: Courtesy of Espacio SOLO

Hug uses used clothing and found materials to create soft sculptures and wearable art. She is trained in fashion and has worked with several international designers. In parallel, she has developed her artistic practice through textile sculptures and performance since 2019. Returning to Colección SOLO, the collection was designed by the Spanish architect Juan Herreros, and presents itself as an arts project that “aims to foster, support and share the artwork of today.” Custic and Hug’s works were specifically presented in order to serve as a taster for a show titled Certainty. SOLO’s press note for these works explains that “the exhibition put together by SOLO looks to generate conversation and shared reflection. For centuries, thinkers have grappled with the concept of certainty, and artists have continually encouraged us to re-evaluate what we see. Continuing in this tradition, Certainty features works by artists from across the world and in diverse media including painting, sculpture, installation, video and decentralised, collaborative AI-art.” One thing that is for certain is that the works presented by Colección SOLO are highly engaging, and worth looking out for.

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