Polish Olza Koenkamp (aka Piotr Kopik) is a full time artist with two lives: one as a human and another as an avatar in Second Life®. His virtual self operates a store where he sells freakish avatars of his own creation. In Real Life, he paints and is a co-founder of szu szu, a group that creates art for public spaces.
Not for the squeamish, Olza's avatars give us a view from the inside.
Olza recently participated in the collective virtual show called "Stop Making Sense." Above, a torso glides happily on ice, and below Olza, wearing one his avatars, spins gracefully alongside the torso object. Visitors to the installation could hop in the rink and select from several skating animations to interact with it.
For years, Olza's art explored his relationship with physical reality: objects that are within hand's reach, simple human gestures that are usually considered unattractive, like nail biting, or piles of abandoned objects and trash usually found at construction sites. In his show There is some escape, it was possible to peer at the busy world outside from inside a pile of junk.
Today, Olza is fascinated with the inside of his body. He doesn't care what it looks like, but concentrates instead on his feelings, how his body works and its relationship with his mind and psyche. His interest in Eastern philisophies and practices such as yoga, led to his "realization" that he needed to REBUILD himself. From that point forward, he gave his Real Life works the moniker PSYCHOSOMATIC REBUILDING. In Second Life, he refers to his activities as PSYCHOSMATIC REBUILDERS.
When it comes to expressing the feelings of the body, Olza believes that there will always be some deformation. "When I think, for example, about my tired eyes, I need to draw them with really heavy eyelids. The eyelids may need to have some additional flaps, the color might need to be more violet to express some little pains around the eyeballs..." explained Olza.
He doesn't care or want to control how people react to his work, whether they find it scary or funny. Furthermore, he is surprised that people are sometimes shocked by it. "Look at pop culture, look at all those games for children, thousands of litres of blood and killing. Look at the movies, with huge horror monsters and children's cartoons with spitting and farting. And what about the history of twentieth century art: piss paintings and drawings by Warhol, Viennese Actionism (Schwarzkogler cutting his penis) and many, many radical and classic artworks. Compared to them, my avies are funny little bunnies," he said.
Olza now crosses back and forth between Second Life and Real Life to create his art on either end. He uses his Real Life graphics as the basis for his virtual works, and his avatars to make collages and avatar stickers in Real Life.
* Olza's Flickr stream
You can teleport to Olza's PSYCHOSOMATIC REBUILDERS shop from here. Many thanks to Tooter Claxton, who greatly admires Olza's work, for the introduction.