April 16, 2009
Michal Szyksznian
"My first performance was with six-year-old Sandra, who was considered a problem child by her parents. I think her mother had a hard time coping with Sandra’s wicked sense of humor. One time, as protest for being locked in her room, she cut up all her mother’s clothes into tiny little pieces, arranged them in a neat pile in the middle of the floor and called her mum with the innocent voice of an angel. Another time she set fire to her parent’s apartment. She was one tough and mean little lady, but I liked her instantly. She had the pride of a Latino street gang leader. When she looked at you, her piercing little eyes had a very clear message: “Don’t mess with me!”
"I asked Sandra if she would like to participate in some art performances with me. “What’s in it for me?” she replied with the cool of a Yakuza negotiating business. “What do you want?” I asked her. “A bicycle,” she said. So, we had a deal. I bandaged her and she would stand or lie on the street or sidewalk at different locations in Vienna, in the stream of irritated pedestrians. Sometimes she would walk slowly like a sleepwalker and bump into people. She took these actions seriously and was very dedicated, but always with a cool head, no emotions involved. I also did a series of photographs with bandages, strings and surgical instruments and I was careful not to hurt her, but she was acting with a professional curiosity and encouraged me to try more extreme distortions of her face.
Sandra was my first model and she appeared in photographs, short films and my early watercolors of the Beautiful Victim series. I had great respect for her. We never talked much, but there was always an almost telepathic communication and understanding. I wish collaborations with grownups would be that easy."
Gottfried Helnwein, quoted from an interview by Michal Szyksznian, 2009
In Part II of this interview with the Polish website, world-renowned artist Gottfried Helnwein talks with writer Michal Szyksznian about how at a young age he became involved with the performance of numerous Aktions, how his work with musician Marilyn Manson contributed to the album “The Golden Age of Grotesque” and how art is able to communicate with everyone.

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