• culture

    Artists Use Instagram to Subvert The Youth/Beauty Fixation

    The Kissinger Twins are experimenting with interactive storytelling on Instagram, exploring youth obsession and living "agefully."

    “You are never too old to become younger”

    is the motto of @Sufferosa, a project of The Kissinger Twins, Kasia and Dawid, a director duo experimenting with interactive storytelling. Their project, a satire on the social media obsession with youth and beauty, is gorgeously produced, and is, as far as we know, the first interactive series designed for Instagram. It tells a story reflecting on youth, beauty, death and the sense of being lost in the maze you can’t escape. They work with an amazing cast of actors and musicians (Sonic Youth, Glass Candy) mixing seriousness and social commentary with humor.

    We came upon The Kissinger Twins at the ME Conference in Stockholm last year, and with their project recently finished, we reached out to find out more about them.

    AGEIST: How old are you?

    Kissinger Twins: Kasia 41, Dawid 45.

    AGEIST: Where are you both from?

    Kissinger Twins: Poland, but in the last decade we lived in UK, Canada, France and Singapore.

    AGEIST: When did you start work on Sufferosa?

    Kissinger Twins: That’s a very interesting question because the history of this project is a bit unusual. We started Sufferosa in 2005 as an interactive storytelling experiment. In 2010 we launched the interactive web-based film Sufferosa, still available on the website www.sufferosa.com. We presented it at more than 40 film and new media festivals around the world as a Live Cinema Performance — we edited it live in front of the audience. Two years ago we decided to update the story and move it to Instagram. Here it is, as the first interactive film series designed for this platform.

    AGEIST: Could you describe the working process?

    Kissinger Twins: Dawid complicates, Kasia simplifies.

    AGEIST: How did you attract/decide upon your collaborators?

    Kissinger Twins: What’s very important: Sufferosa is a non-commercial art project. We approached some legends of the Polish film industry from the classic 1950-1970 era like Beata Tyszkiewicz, Ewa Szykulska, Ryszard Ronczewski. They all liked the pro-age message of the project and decided to be a part of it.

    Some of our favorite musicians such as Sonic Youth, Tarwater, Exploding Star Orchestra or Glass Candy liked the experimental and subversive character of the story and allowed us to use their music. All for free. That’s the advantage of making art projects. We were very lucky to meet many generous and adventurous people.

    AGEIST: What attracted you to the topic?

    Kissinger Twins: We live in the world poisoned with the promise of eternal youth. Mae West once said: “You are never too old to become younger.”

    Kylie Jenner: “I’m scared of the day I turn 19. I really don’t want to grow past 18.”

    We simply need to stop idolizing youthfulness and accept the fact that one day we will be 50, 60, 70… (if we were lucky). We need to stop worrying and try to live our life agefully.

    AGEIST: Why did you choose Instagram as the platform?

    Kissinger Twins: Instagram is a platform focused on beauty and youth in the most direct, visual way. The platform’s colorful & happy aesthetic is omnipresent, so we wanted to be a bit subversive and experiment with it. @Sufferosa is dark because it is our love letter to American film noir, but there is a lot of humor in it too. Some of our followers said that we made an immersive story. That’s the first time we heard that term used to describe a social media experience. This means that we managed to make something unusual.

    AGEIST: What did you learn from doing the project?

    Kissinger Twins: Talking with your audience. Sufferosa is our first project where we have a direct conversation with our viewers. We have DM in the middle of the night: “I’m scared, don’t know if I should continue” or “We love Dolores! When the counter beauty revolution starts?” The English teacher in Argentina is giving lessons on Sufferosa 😉

    AGEIST: What are you working on next?

    Kissinger Twins: There are two more acts of @Sufferosa. Simultaneously we have been working on a narrative video game about 80-year-old commando of rebels. Vanishing Point meets All the President’s Men. As you can see, age and its cultural context is our main theme.


    The Kissinger Twins

    David Stewart
    David Stewart
    David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

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