In a praise of a kiss 
The exhibition project was born from the photographic documentation produced by Alessandro Ruzzier during his touring performance art project held in a number of cities in Slovenia in 2009. The starting point is a reflection on intimacy and how it is considered in society. The performance took place in a space delimited and protected from the view of those who were outside (a cube-shaped structure of 3 meters on each side, which can be assembled in 20 minutes and can be positioned in a gallery, theatre, library or an outdoor public space ...). The visitor was invited to enter the space, they were informed in advance about what was going to happen, that their active participation was expected and that they can stop any time. The task of the performer, Vlasta Veselko, was to entice the visitor into the act of kissing, a kiss on the mouth, the greatest form of intimacy, at least in most of western society. Alessandro was a witness and authorized voyeur, not only of the kiss, but also of everything that happened before and after it, of all the possible sensations evoked by the situation: fear, resistance, refusal, reticence, helplessness, attraction, the commitment made (kissing, being kissed), tiredness, odour, boredom, expectation, fear of the other person’s reaction, thinking that the other person could be sick, dirty or drunk ... and much more. When we look at the over sixty images of these authorized kisses, and listen to Alessandro’s experience, our attention shifts to the representation of an event that was unique and unrepeatable in space and time. Each image represents the minimum possible space between two people. Spatial proximity, knowing and feeling where the Other is, becomes fundamental for the human relationship that is established. A space that is physical and emotional at the same time. The kiss on the mouth, which belongs to the body but also part of our soul, the "psyche" delivered to the Other in the moment of the kiss. All the senses are involved in a kiss on the mouth: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing, savouring the other person in every respect, in that place and that instant.
All the images in "KISSES" have the same format: the same size, the same background, and the same action. Two subjects are shown, one of whom is always present. However, at the same time they are all completely different, unique and unrepeatable. Unrepeatable as true kisses are, always linked to a space and a time, but inexhaustible and never neutral. Kisses that always - and only - require the Other. The kiss portrayed is certainly an alteration of reality, but the wall of kisses set up for KISSES, forces our gaze to push us beyond the aesthetic kiss in order to also shows us the ethical kiss, not separately, but at the same time. This leads us to consider the nature of this action, sublime practice, and the highest degree of language and dialogue between two people. It invites us to reconsider this action and recover it from our memory. This can mean recovering our relationship with the Other, but it can also come out of a dominant idea generated during the twentieth century which we still suffer for, and which still bears influence today: the supremacy of the need for freedom in our existence. A kiss on the mouth is, even only for an instant, our "being-towards-life", "being-towards-love", the alternative to that "being-towards-death" Heidegger spoke of and outlined in the his great masterpiece "Being and Time". Love and Death - the "two beautiful things" in the words of Leopardi - represent the essence of the dramatis personae and if love is an expression of freedom and the death of necessity, a kiss, a kiss on the mouth, the minimum possible space between two people, is a possibility - the vital breath (psyche) - of renewing the supremacy of freedom over necessity without fear of exhaustion.
“A kiss, once given, is never lost.”  (Italian proverb)
Stefano Monti for Kisses solo exhibition at SMDOT/contemporary art, january 2020
2009 | The Kisses project is the result of the collaboration between Alessandro Ruzzier, visual artist, photographer and musician, and Vlasta Veselko, dancer, performer and choreographer, and supported by the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia.
The starting point of our observation is the concept of intimacy. That is the meaning of intimacy, how we live it, how it is considered in our society. By observing our intimate world and our body which is, for instance, the main tool used by a dancer, we decided to focus on those physical actions that represent and state intimacy. We eventually came to the act of kissing, which is often considered more intimate than sexuality itself (prostitutes do not usually kiss their clients on the lips). In the ranking of actions considered intimate, kissing is in the first position. And yet it is among the tolerated and permitted things you can do in public. We might even consider it as a harmless gesture.Eventually, we decided to consider a kiss as a physical action, where two bodies initially meet (mouths, lips, tongues, teeth…). But also where two different personalities meet. Two different energies. Two different "chemistries"… a kiss seen as a door opening, an invitation to the deepest part of another person, by exchanging body-liquids. By the way we kiss (sweet, passionate, automatic, friendly, hasty…) we can "read" both the relationship between two people and the personality of each individual involved in the kissing.

The project is divided in two parts. One is a performance supported by pictures. The other is a photo exhibition
The performance is carried out in a confined space, protected from the outside world (a cube-shaped structure, measuring 2.7 m on each side, which can be easily set up in 20 minutes and then placed inside an arcade, a theatre, a bookstore, an outdoor public space…), in which we create a laid back, pleasant, safe and intimate environment. Visitors are invited to come inside, then informed that they are expected to collaborate actively and that the performance is going to be documented by pictures which will later be displayed in an exhibition. They are also assured that the performance can be interrupted and that they can leave at any time, if they wish so. The performer's task is to get the visitor involved in the kissing. She tries to find the way to establish a physical connection with the visitor. In doing so, she can choose different techniques: she might use a glance, an expression, her body language, a caress... At the same time, she goes through a range of different feelings, like fear, resistance, refusal, reticence, powerlessness, attraction, sense of commitment (kissing and being kissed) and expectation, tiredness, boredom, concern for the possible reaction of the visitor or for the fact that he/she might be sick, dirty, drunk... The photographer's task, who acts as a voyeur and a documentary maker at the same time, is to make the kissing real through his pictures and his very presence. He himself feels different emotions and, if on the one hand he is less involved since he is not taking part in the physical action of kissing, on the other hand he is the performer's psychological support, and is required to keep his mind clear and alert, ready to step in if the visitor reacts unpredictably and inappropriately.
For the exhibition, the pictures are displayed side by side on one wall, namely the wall of kisses. The photographer "writes" the story of the kissing, and with the exhibition he answers the audience's questions. What happens between two people who kiss? When we see two people kissing, can we describe what is really going on between them? Maybe, to be more precise, we can describe what we think is going on. We observe the action, not actively involved, yet affected by it. Our perception is the projection on an image of the two people in front of us, of our emotions, of what we feel, imagine, desire, live intimately. Would we be capable, if caught in the act of watching, of persevering in our voyeur role? And would the two people keep on kissing if they knew they were being watched? What is a kiss? What does kissing somebody mean? This story can be seen as a dream: with this specific action and with a photo we can tell a life story, we can put together many years in just one moment, simply with a kiss or a glance.
We believe what we see, and this can lead us to a dangerous game. The wall of kisses brings a positive message. A prayer to keep on having faith in people. A chance to prove ourselves that nothing can be surely defined. And that emotions still play a fundamental role in our life.
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