video installation

Catch-22 is a video installation. It describes a moment in which one wants to escape a specific, paradoxical situation but they cannot because of contradictions in their nature and their surrounding world which are out of their rational control. A friction between consciousness and the outer judgement (superego) and the subconsciousness (id).  

A catch-22 is a dilemma, or difficult circumstance, from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting conditions. The term was coined by Joseph Heller. In his 1961 novel an army psychiatrist invokes it to explain why a pilot requesting mental evaluation for insanity - hoping to be found not sane enough to fly and thereby escape dangerous missions - demonstrates his own sanity in creating the request and thus cannot be declared insane.

Catch-22 questions the situation we found ourselves in during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is a paradox: work was being produced, but there was no possibility of presenting the work. In Catch-22 Persona questions the status quo of maintaining this constant workflow but constantly clashing with different obstacles such as as the various measurements. Persona wants to mirror this with Catch-22. It is a continuous loop, we see people not being able to finish their acton, as if they are stuck in a certain motion. Stuck in time and space. 


Catch-22 searches for our core identity. Often this is difficult to find, or to recognise because that core is surrounded but countless layers of subconsciousness.

The installation has a strong connection with the general research the body as the manifestation of the identity and the previous works it encloses: looking into the identity of a being.

The images that are used are taken from the film SKINNED. The film wasn't finished yet at the time Catch-22 was being presented. SKINNED is simultaneously a previous and a future work during the creation of the installation. It is a literal catch-22 because material is already being reused and given a new meaning, while taken from a work that hasn't established its own point of view yet. By changing the context Persona gives the images different identities. 

In SKINNED we go layer through layer to find this core, while in Catch-22 it's a moment stuck in time in between those layers. Not being able to go any further as if stuck in limbo, stuck in action. Not being able to escape it. 

Catch-22 is an intimate one-on-one experience where the viewer comes face to face with the freedom to seek their own core.




concept & installation



Pieter Desmet

Steffi Mennen

director of photography

Jonathan De Maeyer

with the support of

Stad Antwerpen

Platform In De Maak



14.03.2021 . the festival that never happened . Leuven . Belgium


07.05.2022 . Kunstgrillen . BarVIZart . Wilrijk . Belgium