working artists


Viktor Koen
(click on thumbnail to view larger version)

artist statement | technical statement | process

artist statement
The overall concept of "Transmigrations" combines theories and research on social insects, traditional and contemporary corporate structures, job descriptions and reincarnation scriptures. A variety of conceptual layers enhances the basic idea with depth, and an intricate point-of-view. While the layers require the study of a substantial amount of bibliography, they provides the project with a spine, by acting as a solid point of departure. "Transmigrations, Cases of Corporate Reincarnation" showcases 24 portraits of high executive title holders that return to life as insects. The characters personify symbols and weapons of their trades on a number of levels, some instantly visible and others hidden.

The term "transmigration" refers to successive embodiments, mainly in the sense of rebirth in lower life forms. This theory was first asserted by Pythagoras, the most important early Hellenic thinker and the father of controversial teachings on reincarnation of souls. He taught that those whose lives had been filled with evil deeds and destructive emotions, were unworthy to reincarnate immediately in human form. Such souls, therefore, obsessed the bodies of animals and attempted to function through these inferior vehicles until eventual re-elevation to a human host. Insect societies, strife and competition prevail. The colony features a system of castes and labor roles featuring aggression among competitive social insects. Individuals that achieved dominance over the rest and are given preference in access to food and breeding cells. The chosen ones - even within the same colony - recognize each other as rivals and display open hostility to each other. Organizational details evolve through an evolutionary optimization process, a precise replica of the methods used in the marketplace to develop successful business models. Similarly dynamic and competitive markets dictate aggressive corporate behavior patterns and environments in which the option of moral, human or fair conduct is almost an impossibility. The race towards market domination has underscored the need for structures which define clear, uncrossed lines of authority and communication. Thus arose a breed of business executives who have to practice cold, analytical, often impersonal tactics, in order to show the maximum return on investment for their enterprises.

The series Transmigrations describes a cast of bureaucrats with punished souls, consigned to the lowest life form, with upward mobility nearly impossible. These concoctions of flesh and metal do not appear to be individuals that made mistakes and wish to repent. They were willing adapters of a predatory modus operandi and now, in their sub-human condition, their instincts apply. Here their essence is physical and exposed, just like the names, which to some degree, mirror the signature trait of the insect with which they where fused. Comfortable in their new suits, they size up their enemies. They have no friends, they never did.