With enforced distance from certain faces and rituals, we can all see we are different now. How has the pandemic changed the collective understanding of the body, community, everyday life and our sense of self? That is what the current exhibition titled ‘BODY ECSTATIC BODY ECLECTIC BODY ECCENTRIC’, hosted by the ULAY Foundation explores.
The exhibition curated by Hana Ostan Ožbolt, Freelance Curator and Director of the ULAY Foundation, is taking place in the ULAY Foundation Project Space in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The exhibition opened on September 17th and will be on view until October 30, 2021.
Curator of the exhibition, Hana Ostan Ožbolt commented: “Building a bridge between the bodies of the past and the bodies of the present, the exhibition looks at how bodies metamorphose, how they adapt to the pressures of society and how they try to break free of such limitations, focusing particularly on the woman’s body—the virus and sociopolitical response to it have only further accelerated and exposed the oppression women face in today’s society: their economic, political and reproductive rights are again under attack worldwide. The topic, the artist list and the works are all highly relevant—also if from a historical perspective of the 1970s, they speak about the current time.”
BODY ECSTATIC BODY ECLECTIC BODY ECCENTRIC looks at the issue of the body and its performativity in a variety of media (moving image, photography, performance), juxtaposing some of the most important artistic positions from the 1970s with those of more recently established and emerging artists, who work with digital media or solely in the post-digital realm. The exhibition features artworks by artists including – Ana Mendieta, Annegret Soltau, Arvida Byström, Elena Tejada-Herrera, Iza Pavlina, Jeremy Shaw, Letícia Parente, Marina Abramović, Molly Soda, Sanja Iveković, Ulay and Ulrike Rosenbach. Presenting artists who use (their own) body as medium to challenge traditional conceptions of gender and sexuality, self-imaging and the narrative of women’s ongoing struggle for social justice, the exhibition deals with the body and the bodies: their groupings, rituals, presence and absence. Public environments, where certain kinds of physical movement were once taken for granted, are today, in this time of pandemic, differently categorized and choreographed; the architecture of domestic space is being reconceptualized; and the body is increasingly contained, bordered.
The work of selected female artists from the 1970s—Letícia Parente, Sanja Iveković, Ulrike Rosenbach, Marina Abramović, Annegret Soltau, and Ana Mendieta—grouped under the heading “The Feminist Avant-Garde,” forms the historical frame of the exhibition. The aim is to show the current relevance of not only these artists’ body-oriented performances and pioneering achievements but also of the issues they addressed and embodied through both intimate and politically charged works, which feel so contemporary today.
The exhibition has a particular focus on women’s issues, as the pandemic has magnified all inequalities, and women’s independence is one of its silent victims. Including the works of three digital natives – artists Molly Soda, Arvida Byström and Iza Pavlina, all born around 1990 – the exhibition looks at how zooming in on our own image has led to a hyper-awareness of our on-screen appearance—with a correspondent rise in cosmetic surgery and specific beauty procedures. Working across several digital platforms, producing videos, GIFs, and web-based works the three artists have been performing for the camera, with their performances and actions often streamed in real-time, exploring the divergence between self-perception and the gaze of the other.
Just as the artists from the 1970s, Soda, Byström and Pavlina question body ideals and body dissatisfaction, societal pressures, and female sexuality. As opposed to the historical positions their search for authenticity intertwines with feelings of intimacy, shame and desire based on an economy of “likes” and a culture of self-help/self-improvement.
As part of the exhibition is also an inter-active female-empowering two-channel video installation They Sing, They Dance, They Fight by a Peruvian artist Elena Tejada-Herrera and Jeremy Shaw’s film Liminals, which creates a hypnotic experience that implicates the viewer in the very phenomenon he depicts.
The selected works will be presented in the Ljubljana-based exhibition space, together with the established artistic positions that are already part of the exhibition.
Reservations, inquiries or all additional information: info [at] ulayfoundation.org