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you are not alone … ever, 2020, audiovisual installation, object and 4 speakers, 22:22 min sound, looped, KAI10-Arthena Foundation, Düsseldorf

“You are not alone … ever” is an installation piece which came out of my extensive research on loneliness before the Corona pandemic hit in the beginning of 2020. Shortly after celebrating the opening of this piece, the museum had to shut its doors, making this piece more current and eerie than ever.

My question is: “What happens when we take interpersonal closeness away?” When standing in the black room you see an object hanging in front of the window, blocking most of the light. Only a fine sliver of brightness breaks through at the edges, rendering a rectangular drawing of light in the room. The size of the object in the window, however, has a bleak reference: Its size is the equivalent to a possible size of an isolation cell in the US penal system. Inmates in these cells have no personal contact apart with the guards who take them outside for one-two hours a day. According to the psychologist Lisa Guenther, taking away the possibility to touch others or to be touched destroys “the structure of our being” [1] as one living from relationships. At the same time, it is a form of punishment that is used in the most intimate relationships – between parents and children or in couple relationships.

When standing in the black room, blinking at the window object, there’s also a voice in the room, emanating from the four loudspeakers in the corners, repeating the sentence “You are not alone …. ever”. Is it a quest for comfort? Or a threat of another’s ever-presence? What does it mean “to be together”? In this piece, I focused on the emotional impact that isolation has on us as social creatures. The installation is an emotion-based space between minimalistic visuals and an iridescent soundscape (for which I collaborated with the musician Tobias Gronau). When standing in the sounding space, it is like entering the world of a feeling body.