L’ALTRE UBIC. MIGRACIONS DEL COS FRAGMENTAT
EXHIBITION CURATED BY MERCÈ ALSINA
Hyperconnectivity, paradoxically, causes an isolation effect referring to the self, both in the psychic and physical way. The body becomes a research territory in which it recognizes the others living inside us and the desire to show us how this ubiquitous other emerges. To explore this unknown states Teemu Mäki, Mar C. Lobo, Mengwen Cao, Isa Fontbona, Francesca Steele, Itziar Okariz and Ricado Muñoz raise questions about identity, whether it is physical appearance, sexual orientation, gender or social attitudes as well as the existential doubts that we face in the daily exercise of thinking, to carry out the imaginary in subversive actions, challenging what is affecting us socially.
To pee in public and private spaces
The radicality of Itziar Okariz’s gestures [Donostia, Spain, 1965] is based on the simplicity of actions that have the ability to question convention and social norms. Language and body are used as conceptual instruments to address issues such as morality or gender. In To pee in public or private spaces (2000-2006), the artist pees right – as men generally do – in different private and public spaces, denouncing how architecture has imposed a closing space for women, while men can do it more freely. Reiteration appears here as a strategy to give visibility and a mechanism to claim a social transformation of the practice of this physiological function. Repetition is, in itself, an act of affirmation and also of resistance that, as such, becomes subversive material, with a will to transform the social practices in question and break it.
Here we are
Mengwen Cao [Hangzhou, China, 1991] was born and raised in China but has lived in New York for few years. After her own experience as a queer immigrant, her work explores the spaces that are generated between the issues of race, gender and cultural identity. The piece shown is a frame from a video letter in which she explains that she likes girls, but that she has not revealed it to her family out of fear. This letter, addressed to her parents, is shown four months later through a Facetime connection, while her parents are in China and Mengwen in the United States. These works are framed within the larger project Here We Are. She also highlights her work as an activist, as a member of the Authority Collective and, as a founding member of Chinese Storytellers.
Fancesca Steele [Nottingham, United Kingdom, 1976] shows the process that helped her to understand – and stop fighting – who educated her to believe in her own body. The artist has integrated the practice of bodybuilding into her artistic work. On one hand, she uses specific techniques, unusual in female bodybuilding, with the intention of turning her body into a vehicle to critically explore physical concerns and challenging gender stereotypes. On the other hand, the same process is accompanied by qualitative and quantitative research. Along with the performative and videographic works, her own body becomes a document. With Spoken PDQ Steele reflects on the process of accepting her own body, regardless of conventionalisms and stereotypes, inspired by diagnostic personality questionnaires used in psychiatry to study personality disorders.
Construccions identitàries. Work in progress
Mar C. Llop [Barcelona, Spain, 1967] is a transgender photographer and activist. Her familiarity with the people of this group allowed her to dive into intimate issues affecting the entire process of trafficking in sexual identity. All images have been collected in Identity Constructions, an extensive photographic series showing images that bring us closer to the intimate setting in which all this process takes place, from the underwear drawer, to the socialization. Another of the series shown is Traffics, in which she contrasts two snapshots of different moments of the gender trafficking of different people. This is a small sample of her extensive work, taking shape as a work-in-progress and including videographic materials, between activism and documentary.
Ricardo Muñoz [Pereira, Colombia, 1985] with his work generates surrealist universes that penetrate the inner and subconscious world, while exploring the concept of aberration, understood in this case as a deviation from human behavior and that he approaches as a part – hidden – of the same. He presents the video Inside outside (2014), an exploration of the body. He uses his sense of humor to make a trip to the most intimate, unknown and raw part – literally – of himself, using body paint. The exploration presents a tension between fun and play and violence, represented by a cut on the face. It also presents a ‘gegantografia’, a large-format self-portrait of which there are three versions. In this, the eyes and mouths are replicated in his body, as a manifestation of this diversity of identities that inhabit us and that are not always shown, despite the fact that they do not stop to be, to worry us, and potentially, to transform us .
Isa Fontbona [Girona, Spain, 1987] investigates women and bodybuilding practice in transgender identity. She is a natural bodybuilding competitor and performing artist. Through her own body, she explores issues related to gender distinction, the social pressure exerted on bodies and their limits of resistance. It is for her an analysis tool to question the physical transformation of the body and how it is perceived socially. Here she shows one of the photographic series of the Transmogrification project. Between Carving and Bulking. Destroying an Evanescente Body searching for Self-Identity (2019-2021) and a text in which he reflects on this transformation; the video-performance Sculpting the Body as a Masterpiece. Sweating Against Masculine Domination (2018) and the unpublished performance Turbulences Corporales. Between the absurd and the resistance (2020) that addresses the debate on whether bodybuilding can be a resistance tool or a new submission of the body.
How Many Genders Are There?
Teemu Mäki [1967, Lapua, Finland] addresses questions that reflect on the global world but also on artistic practice. He affirms that, for him, art is the best way to answer the question about how we should live. At the exhibition, he presents a 29-minute documentary on gender, transgender and third gender, titled Onko sukupuolia kaksi vai enemmän? [How many genres are there?] (2018). It is based on a series of interviews with people who have decided to do gender trafficking or who are not comfortable with restrictive gender identities. This project is closely linked to others that explore similar issues, such as the play Transformations (2016) where he stated that the question of how to be a man or a woman or something else it is crucial in every individual life. Thus, some adapt to assigned gender roles while others rebel and create new possibilities for themselves.