Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder, is considered a complex mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association that is difficult to diagnose and often caused by trauma. This is not the case in Andrea Crespo’s sis: somatic system exhibition running at Berlin’s Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler. Here the artist presents as a so-called ‘plurality‘ under the names Celinde and Cynthia embodied in hyperreal hentai characters. They could resemble the CGI avatars of Kate Cooper’s RIGGED show opened at KW last year, except that Crespo’s characters represent a certain System community, a healthy multiplicity, rather than an image of a modified world.
Cynthia and Celinde have their own personalities and preferences but exist in the same body and head space. Hand drawn with ink, grading from white to dark purple, they kiss, fight or just exist among psychiatric mood charts and text. Spreading from paper to framed glass on eight digital prints in Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler’s first room and office, the charts show moods scanning “DEPRESSED” and “ELEVATED” to reaching the neutral green-coloured “NORMAL” state between. Transferred into data, the drawings and chart were scanned by mobile scanners, leaving suggested traces in the form of glowing lines.
Thick black curtains divide the gallery’s space. Before entering the other side, the viewer is met with a warning that what they are about to experience might provoke psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and are reminded that sis is“not liable for undesired changes”.
A strong video work and an impressive continuation of Crespo’s multi-layered sis project , ‘Parabiosis’(2015) –as in, the temporary loss of conductivity or excitability of a nerve cell –is central to sis: somatic system. Projected on a whole wall, the dark-toned video begins with two glowing lines scanning across the screen horizontally, followed by an almost unbearably high-pitched signal. These are effects designed to trigger a personality switch in a person with DID. Simulating a scan, the image of Cynthia and Celinde appears as the line moves and, as with the prints, the act of scanning becomes a method for diagnosing apparent abnormalities such as autism or what the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) defines as Gender Dysphoria.
Through text sis speaks to their audience: “You are drifting”, “never alone”, say some of the messages appearing among hashtags, mood charts and a diagram depicting the “Phantom Limbs, Phantom Body, Phantom Self…” of autoscopic phenomena. “#queer”, “#polygender”, “#autistics” run along a ribbon of labels including “#schizoaffective”, “#borderline”, “#bipolar. They’re words that were once defined, or are still defined as disorders by the APA. As a glowing line opens the video –scanning over the assertion, “you are a signal” –it also closes it. Two lines cross each other and arrive at either end. The noise fades.