Flor Maesen
Inside Conversations

Viewed from above, the whole thing takes place in the digital inside of a man. The man will only take physical form in a post-“Inside Conversations” epoch. Until then, we are making attempts to imagine him and put him into images. 

The man surrenders. Together with him we disappear in free fall, into the circular sewer. People call him the Self Sucking Man, reminiscent of a silly little verse of old. 

< In jump, the turn goes in / out squirt, the turn goes out >.  

As the man falls, our thoughts make their way through his bowels. As we enter, something creeps up on us. Something between repelling and propelling forward, somewhere between dark and light. There the ego meets its own shadow. Intestines churn and burn. Blood pumps, Hair weaves, tunnels undulate, vanishing holes shine. Two women's voices engage in dialogue. They rise unruly or lie down again caressingly. He sits right between our two ears. He bites down. Together they do rollovers, mind shaking, brain shaking, tingling, from the head through the neck to the back.

Bijgesneden gravure van Kolossus van Rhodos, van Maarten van Heemskerck, 1572, Courtauld Gallery, London

The man feeds himself. Even before the brain can straighten out the world, a stream penetrates the mouth with full force. Thoughts leave the head, spin away into a hole only to come blowing back in, upside down, upside down, inside out, different and around, molted, caught in the endless course of one's own skin. He seeks redemption. He sucks, eats, digests, vomits, squirts and slurps up what remains. Grinding and regurgitating everything many times, but never satisfied. Anti-climax. His digestive system digests food as long as it settles. Does it (still) set?

< His upper body is placed on his hips like a king on a throne >.

They say he exudes the heavy splendor of a barbarian. A god. One who sows gods. His body is made of gold and shines like the sun, like an icon or trophy. He is overconfident, but not invincible. A fallen angel or at least a demigod perhaps?

Self-glorification, haughtiness and external splendor. Inner decay, torment and tragedy. Cracks that lead back to a kind of origin story, that of Greek mythology. Crete and Rhodes. Icarus crashed into the waters around Crete and the Colossus of Rhodes is said to have stood in, well, Rhodes.

To escape from Crete, Icarus was given wings of wax by his father. However, he flew too close to the sun and fell. At the same time, the 33-meter-high Colossus of Rhodes could not get close enough to the sun. This bronze colossus was erected in honor of the city's patron god, the Greek sun god Helios. He exists only in ancient texts, no archaeological evidence nor images from that time have been recovered of him. We can only imagine what the statue must have looked like in the year 280 BC.

< The thumb of Colossus could barely be encompassed with the arms and the hollow spaces of the limbs looked like caves >

Geographer Strabo and scholar Pliny the Elder did suppose and made descriptions tailored to the mold of men like this. The statue would have looked like the preserved effigies of Helios: a naked, beautiful young man, with wavy hair, covered by a crown with seven rays.

But in the end, our stiffened, self-deprecating man seems to coincide most closely with one of the world's oldest mythical symbols: Ourobouros, the primordial creature that eats its own tail, knows no beginning or end and as such symbolizes the perpetual, cyclical return of everything. Tail-eater or simply the God of the Hole? We can keep guessing, but take advantage of this hole to round up this story.

Inside Conversations fills the MAP space from Thursday, Oct. 18, through Nov. 4. The screens, the light and the conversations that can be captured shape a shiny, bronze entity. Inside Conversations is a collaboration between Flor Maesen, the animator of what could be a walk through the gut of the Self Sucking Man, and a growing group of conversationalists. 

This interview was originally published in Onrust, Magazine °7, 09 – 12.2018.
Text: Liene Aerts