Interdisciplinary Conference


in Art & Science

26-28 November 2020, University of Applied Arts Vienna/Online

Session: Session "NSP2 / Brute"
Speakers: Max Maxi

I have been hurting myself for many years. Whenever I was overwhelmed by mental pain, I would transform it to the physical realm where the pain was more bearable. The Transformation of pain was achieved by cutting myself. This – brought relief to my mental pain, and also provided me with a sense of cleansing - cathartic effect. I decided to leave this dark place. 


To gain perspective on many years of self-destruction and mental pain, I set out to map my self-inflicted injuries. I grew cultures of bacteria and yeast into a skin-like substance, and then I reconstructed the cuts previously inflicted directly on my skin. 


This was an exercise in curbing my impulse: growing the skin substitute takes about ≈ three months and patience was required. At that point, the act of cutting had to be accurately implemented, based on the scars on my body, therefore I could not use the blade impulsively as I was used to when my own body was involved. I used my own blood to reflect the level of mental pain. I use my blood in my works - I find it to be a wonderful fire-like substance, symbolizing Life, Pain, Death. 


Each reconstructed cut was placed on my body, on top of the original cut and then photographed to create a ‘Pain Map’. In addition to that, a picture of each scar was made. The pictures were arranged chronologically and together they created a series forms, a ‘timeline of hurt’. I view this work as a parting ritual from my old self. I hope to give birth to a new healthier me. So did I. 



I’ve been exposed to violence since childhood - mental, sexual, physical. 


My childhood scared me. It made me feel worthlessness, detached and self-deprecating. That was the reason I started scaring myself. Specific reasons varied, sometimes it was due to self-hatred, sometimes ruled by my wish to die, but mostly because physical pain made me forget the pain inside me, the suffocating one, the one I could not stand. 

It was very difficult for me to get involved in such a project. Developing it was similar to a game of Russian roulette. Despair, loneliness and self-hatred could make me annihilate myself and everything associated with me. 

While working on the project, I had to get back to those moments leading to self-harm - had no choice. 

To me, the important thing was managing to complete this project without any devastating episodes and with a feeling of empowerment. This is how I cope with the scars from the past. I create them outside of myself and I try them on once more, exploring how they fit today. 

For many years I’ve been living in darkness and I know what it’s like to be there and how painful it could be. I believe that it’s my duty to tell my story and show that there is a way out and the path outside of Pain is full of Light.

Max Maxi

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