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The “I AM NOT ME, PLEASE BELIEVE ME !” SERIES is a multifaceted project & exhibition series by Berlin-based artist CAROLA SCHMIDT.
The Series explores the borders of roles, reflection on identity and emotional states of “being out of yourself”.
In this body of work, all of her different personalities – the director, the artist and her performer/singer alter ego Lulu Schmidt – collaborate for the first time.
She works alongside people who have chosen to dedicate parts of their lives to living with an ALTER EGO they’ve created. Or with those that temporarily lose themselves in a role, without noticing or realising, or that live a parallel secret life.
The project currently consists of THREE PARTS
The FILM/PHOTO SERIES “Would you date your alter Ego?”
the MUSIC-PERFORMANCE & SONG “I am not me!” by Lulu Schmidt–
& the VIDEO INSTALLATION SERIES “Rites of Energy Canalization”)
which melt into one another and make the project an interactive audiovisual performative experience, always responding to the site it is presented in.
The series is an artistic experiment, exploring the architecture of the inner world, the boundaries of roles, self-constructed parallel identities, and the emotional experience of being “outside of your self”.
The ‘sessions’ take place internationally and free of local boundaries or restrictions.
“WOULD YOU DATE YOUR ALTER EGO?”
The Series WOULD YOU DATE YOUR ALTER EGO is a photo & video portrait project, in which I encourage people who have an alter ego (drag queens, politicians, celebrities, actors, etc. ) to enact an encounter (go an a date) with their alter ego. People are invited to meet their alter ego, conducting a dialogue with their second self.
Where does the role start, where does it end…where are the contradictions, where are the boundaries? A drag queen, a policeman, or identical twins – together they explore the boundaries of their identity and sense of self.
The people are filmed separately and cut together in post-production. Of course, the reactions are often inappropriate, and this is where it gets interesting…
The script is developed together with the artist, who, after an initial improvisational approach, encourages the protagonists to write their screenplays themselves.
“I am another” … Arthur Rimdaud’s frequently quoted formula is still highly relevant, and yet in this context seems outdated:
These days it’s quite normal to present one’s self in multiple artificial versions; online, via social media; Facebook, etc. Whilst the pressure to self-dramatise is increasing, the ability to be self-critical is declining. But simultaneously, the desire to grasp the actual definition of one’s self, and to control it, is reinforced. The selected personalities are all, whether consciously or not, experts on this subject.
It is the moments of encounter between these parallel identities, whether they are dreaded or desired, that are key for the artist. The contradictions that come to the fore when two identities collide, and the glimpses of frustration as the personalities confront, are poetic in their ability to engender touching, tragic, funny or grotesque moments.
Carola Schmidt meets her Alter Ego Lulu Schmidt for an interview about the series:
I am a performer, I usually don’t do interviews, but I will do my best and make an exception today: Tell us about your FILM / PHOTOGRAPHY Project “WOULD YOU GO ON A DATE WITH YOUR ALTER EGO?”. It all started off as a photo project with Berlin drag girl Äimi Weinhaus …!?
Yes.I started the series with Äimi Weinhaus, a very graceful drag girl from Berlin that caught my eye quite a while ago. It is such an adventure with her … “ICH BIN EIN BERLINERIN!”
But don’t you remember…, it was ME who first met her, after one of my performances in Berlin. I fell in love with her from the first moment. She was Äimi and I was Lulu, and we started a kind of Facebook affair…haha…writing to each other a lot… It was barely a year after she had started her drag career so I found some pictures of her as a boy that were still on Facebook…before her moment of transformation. The portraits of this young boy inspired me, and finally we arranged a real date.
You arranged a date with her! And then I was so nervous waiting for this boy, it was like in “Blind Date”, because I’d never met him as a boy before…
So…, he finally showed up and I found out that HE was almost a complete opposite of HER!
I was shocked, haha! Because he had this authentic Bavarian accent.
I was impressed! Because SHE has that distinguished English way of speaking.
Let’s stop gossiping and talk about the work. Typical Lulu: You’re a terrible interviewer. I knew it!
They live in one body, but have never been in the same room together. So I asked her if she could imagine them meeting up or going on a date: May I invite you to go on a date with your alter ego?
What would they say to each other, if they were to meet each other?
How would they get on? Where would they want to meet?
I left it completely up to her/him to choose their favourite location / situation, to help them decide whether to create a screenplay or to be spontaneous, but I assisted them on their way, and it’s this journey I recorded with my photo and video camera…
Is everything staged? How can you be spontaneous if you can’t actually film them at the same time?
The sessions themselves are very spontaneous, and the most exciting thing is in fact the mistakes and irritations, the strange silences or the sometimes touchingly funny moments that are created when you put the two people together with Photoshop or After Effects in post-production.
While we were shooting, and she started improvising dialogues, it became clear that we had to make a film out of it.
What drives us throughout our work on this series?
The question that has always, in my personal life and in my work, fascinated me the most, is: “Where does the role begin, where does it end? When is it real, when is it a game?” That’s a really interesting process.
So when do you consider something to be real?
Reality has nothing to do with rationality. It’s the strongest emotions that win.
A collective celebration of fake realities. We are pushing them and exaggerating them until something real is created which has more influence on us than the rational reality. This happens with a lot of ‘artificially’ created situations where illusions or rites of energy transformation are created and celebrated: in a nightclub, at a rock concert, in mass hysteria, or ecstasy. When we go into a state of mind superior to ourselves, when we are ‘outside ourselves’ in a way.
That’s exactly what it’s about. you no longer know where reality begins and where it ends. That’s what’s alluring about it. It’s a game, but in games, the truth is often more articulate…than in relaity.
And what is the parameter for verisimilitude? Goosebumps! The goosebump-factor is dogma. Anything that causes goosebumps has a right to be considered as real.
I’m suggesting judgment based on goosebumps. FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT.
I AM NOT ME , PLEASE BELIEVE ME !
I AM NOT ME!
I ́M TOO WEAK FOR MY STRENGTH – TOO STRONG FOR MY WEAKNESS TOO DIRTY FOR MY INNOCENCE –TOO FRAGILE FOR MY ARROGANCE
SO SCARED TO BE LOST –YET TOO LOSE TO BE FOUND
TOO TIRED TO BE BOTHERED – BUT TOO RESTLESS TO BE GROUNDED I ́M TOO GROWN-UP TO PLAY SWEETY – BUT TOO PRETTY FOR YOUR PITY TOO ASHAMED TO PLAY A SAINT.
I ́M TOO UUH TO BE AAH- I ́M TOO WAAH TO BE RRRAH I ́M TOO …. TO BE … TO BE… ME!
I AM NOT ME – PLEASE BELIEVE ME! I AM NOT ME!
I AM NOT ME ! was written by carola Schmidt, and is performed live by her alter ego lulu Schmidt in multi- faceted, site-specific variations.
there are several versions of the song: from the melancholic version performed with the Vienna boys’ choir (wiener Sängerknaben) to the club track and the radio version.
In May 2014 Lulu Schmidts first Solo Single I AM NOT ME! will be released in different versions by R.O.T. records.
For her live performances lulu invites other ‘alter ego experts’ onto the stage.
together they conjure up lustrous, magical glamour in extravagant and specially made costumes, yet their fragility and vulnerability is also plain to see as they search for their ideal self-image.
the Guest protagonists are convincingly interpreting the lyrics drawing on their own experiences, allowing the meaning to unfold in each respective context. ¬the lyrics in aNtipodeN, revolving around their inner conflicts, reveal the magic formula. Torn between strength and weakness, uncertainty and self-optimisation, a funny, ironic and excessive self-expression comes to the fore.
lulu developed her own version of the song in collaboration with the Vienna boys‘ choir at their new con- cert hall, followed by a version performed with a drag girl choir at the Christopher Street Day grande finale at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.
„i am not me!“ – live-performance with 6 members of the „Wiener Sängerknaben“ @ Konzerthaus der Wiener Sängerknaben, Vienna