About yottak! 


by Jan-Erik Lundström

Referencing both work and artist, artist name and work title, the - half impure - acronym yottak! indicates something of the unresolved nature of both the human face and of individual identity in the (especially later) works of Yotta Kippe. Even if some of her large-scale images are, technically speaking, selfportraits, in the sense that the artist herself has indeed, at one stage in the production process, been positioned in front of the camera or has at least been somehow photographically registered; the portrait genre in the sense of having something to do with identification or personhood, is only a distant reverberation in Yotta Kippe’s intriguingly anonymous and positively uncanny images. Perhaps the introduction of the artist as model, then, serves to supply that particular tension which comes from autobiographical linkages, even if ever so tenuous, suggesting the presence of a person somewhere behind the disappeared features. However, more central is the face as source, as origin of imagery, as even the origin of images, but, in this case, then treated as infinitely malleable raw material.

The present demands of us nothing less than a redefinition of humanness. The human body must now be conceived as a biomachine, a bioapparatus where technology continuously redraws the borders between physics and technology, anatomy and machinery, materiality and immateriality, thus also remapping the thresholds between life and death. The photographic uncanny, which André Bazin in "The Ontology of the Photographic Image” understood as man’s struggle against time, "as death is but the victory of time”, shifts its parameters in the photography of yottak!. While titles such as "Precious Little Moments” seem to forward photography’s wellknown indexical relation to actuality and presence, yottak!’s images do not battle a future death through preserving the moment. Instead, the viewer is confronted with a fundamental ontological insecurity at the core of contemporary imagery, where death and life seem to even change places – death in life, the life of death. 

As Derrida has suggested, the "face is the ultimate ethical trap”. The faces of yottak! are visual presences, imaginations and images, not anchored to a body or a place, trapping the viewer in their refusal to refer. They hypnotise you, yottak!’s faces, but reveal nothing of themselves. This is the outrageous, preposterous and scandalous ethics of the art of Yotta Kippe: the face is continuously obliterated, bleached to the point of loosing all its physical properties, distorted, warped, processed, restrained, its features are made unrecognizable, are erased. The face, in its loud silence in death’s vicinity is, in short, disfigured, defaced. 

There are contrasting works of Yotta Kippe, primarily works exploring and traversing an image-saturated culture, providing an image landscape where (visual) meaning is unstable, where quantity precedes quality, where de-contextualization is yet another method of disinformation and destabilization, where performativity excludes reflexivity. It is in contradistinction to the trivial terror of image culture that the potential encounter with the other – me, you, he, she, them –may occur. It is only consciousness that knows a self. And this encounter is only possible with the face. The pronoun must have a face. In the terrible beauty of yottak!s faces, exposed to the point of annihilation, whited-out in the spectral power of the biomachine, we might discover the tabula rasa on which it is possible to, again, inscribe them, he, she, you, me.