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Spotlight

22 May 2020
Dare to embrace the bodies

pli-é collective (Eva Paià, Marina Ribot Pallicer, Angelica Tognetti)

At this moment it has become difficult to think ahead, to breathe for the future [1] but we are sure that there is something we do not want to give up: our bodies and all the bonds that make them possible. So we keep asking ourselves: after confinement, how will we touch each other again, share breaths, smells and excitement? What will it mean for the body to get back into rhythm? How do we want to recover and what do we long to recover?

Starting from the desire to “try out other possible scenarios” to “cultivating culture in the face of the speculative virtualization” that governs our present time, we feel the urgency to question how we will once again mix our bodies. In the face of the emergency situation that has left them, we believe it is necessary to think of strategies for the re-corporation of culture, to reflect on artistic institutions in relation to those that inhabit them and, above all, to stimulate curatorship as a place from which to incarnate and question multiple subjects and stories.

We feel that sharing spaces will become a controlled and complex act, or a random incident. We believe that from the curatorship and cultural mediation we should look for practices that allow us to recover the spaces that we were already walking through. We feel the need to materialize the faces and emotions that until now have only been able to communicate from virtually, the desire to embody the elasticity of our bodies, to cross the border of the epidermis [2], to reconcile ourselves with the forgotten senses. From the distance that we have come and will continue to reproduce as a preventive measure, we outline de-escalation as a gradual liberation from touch [3], an emancipation from our own body towards the other body, towards unknown objects and collective scenarios. In a strange future and for a short time, we will pay curious attention to the act of touching again. At this point, between a state that has been overcome and another to come, the performativity of gestures and bodies will directly or indirectly center our modes of relationship.

The new protocols will make the interaction between bodies complex. The institutions are already working on the implementation of regulations that will be applied in different phases of action. Some of them will determine the number of bodies that will be able to circulate in a room or the direction and sense that they will have to take. The limitation and control of movements will make it difficult for intuitive turns, to change rhythm or walk adrift. In the same way, other regulations will condition the contact between bodies and objects. Suddenly, “not touching” will acquire a double meaning, it will go beyond the auratic idea of the artistic object, still considered too valuable or delicate to be touched with our hands, to refer also to the prevention of contagion between bodies. The objects keep the memory of the organisms that have touched them, trying not to touch them is also a way of getting away from each other, of remaining isolated. As Judith Butler suggests, “the virus connects us through its objects and surfaces, through the close encounter with strangers and acquaintances, confusing and exposing the material bonds that condition and prevent the possibility of life itself. [4]

Touch has become a revolutionary act, the proximity of a problem. Faced with these limitations, it is urgent to ask ourselves how we imagine art institutions from now on? What practices do we want to rescue? Are we still interested in moving around in clean, disinfected white museums, or can we imagine another type of museum, more open, more porous, full of holes through which to breathe?

In their opening, art institutions will have to find a new careful balance between public safety and access to and interaction with the work, healthy and flexible ways to converge and intertwine again. Curation, in this sense, will have to be thought of as a relational exercise, which cures and cares, as a material form that crosses artistic and extra-artistic practices. Transforming and changing cultural devices should become a process that goes beyond institutional capacity and addresses burning issues vital to the surrounding community.

Nothing will ever be the same again, or maybe it will be too much. We will have to look for alternatives, imagine other ways of living, move towards more leisurely and sustainable models. We will need the warmth of bodies, the hugs and the looks; to think and relate to each other from nearby places. We will have the obligation to act as if something had happened.

These days we have seen institutions that have closed their spaces forgetting, once again, the reality outside. Others, however, being very aware of the situation and without ceasing to accompany us, have preferred to think and give themselves time. From the Huarte Centre they have chosen to digest what has happened, to remain silent, to feel and to observe. Little by little they share re-readings of projects that in the past have inhabited the centre and that allow them to question the present and “imagine new possibilities for the time to come” [5]. In La Caldera they have also left spaces to trace and imagine together the possible “ways of returning to the body, thinking from the body and with the body, relations with the world and encounters with others. La Escocesa has activated different “research groups to put into practice imaginative but safe ways of recovering the body on the cultural scene”, offering “alternatives to virtualization as the only possible response” to the crisis of contact. Within these groups, we also track down aid and subsidies that protect the most vulnerable creators; we explore and imagine protocols and measures that can serve as tools for cultural centres to safely return to public activities [7].

In the midst of digesting and trying to sediment what has happened, infinite desires emerge, clues that encourage us to think ahead and accompany us when it comes to imagining other possible cures. We leave them here loose to allow for transit and appropriation:

To relearn how to play, carefully and attentively;

Rediscovering other forms of touch by experimenting with gloves as a second skin;

Recognizing how things feel differently;

Going outside to ventilate the body;

Exploring the performativity that distance generates;

Practicing telepathy to weave other bonds;

Dare to embrace by walking the gaps between risk and caution.

 

[1] The conversation «Tocar palabras con guantes: cuerpo, encierro, relato» between Ana Pol, Ana Longoni and Gloria G. Durán carried out in collaboration with La Casa Encendida resonates in our reflections and accompanies us. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IRcUCnAfY8

[2] «El sujeto del techno-patriarcado neoliberal que la Covid-19 fabrica no tiene piel, es intocable, no tiene manos. No intercambia bienes físicos, ni toca monedas, paga con tarjeta de crédito. No tiene labios, no tiene lengua. No habla en directo, deja un mensaje de voz. No se reúne ni se colectiviza. Es radicalmente individuo. No tiene rostro, tiene máscara.» (“The subject of the neoliberal techno-patriarchy that Covid-19 manufactures has no skin, is untouchable, has no hands. He does not exchange physical goods, does not touch coins, pays with credit cards. He has no lips, he has no tongue. It does not speak live, it leaves a voice message. He does not meet or collectivize. He’s radically individual. He has no face, he has a mask”) in  Preciado, Paul (2020): «Aprendiendo del virus», in El País. Available at https://elpais.com/elpais/2020/03/27/opinion/1585316952_026489.html

[3] Molina Aparicio, Fernando (2020): «Tocarnos» in La Vorágine. Available at  https://lavoragine.net/coronavirus-tocarnos/

[4] Butler, Judith (2020): «Rastros humanos en las superficies del mundo» in Contactos. Available at https://contactos.tome.press/rastros-humanos-en-las-superficies-del-mundo/?lang=es&fbclid=IwAR1HPY_rcK9BFLCg_2_3roR6HkhAj2XC9mIQb2ECeUE8VNBgQ4ZjsD8o-HY

[5] Centro Huarte (2020): «Digestión». Available at https://www.centrohuarte.es/digestion/

[6] La Caldera (2020): «Soñando un espacio para reencontrarnos». Availabler at http://lacaldera.info/pages/view/somiant-un-espai-per-retrobar-nos?lang=spa

[7] La Escocesa (2020) «La Escocesa es mobilitza: un centre de recerca artística per a afrontar la crisi del covid-19». Available at www.laescocesa.org

 

(Featured Image: Eva Paià)

 

 

 

 

pli-é collective is a body shared by Eva Paià, Marina Ribot Pallicer and Angelica Tognetti. A space-time of encounter from which we conspire and generate spaces of listening and resistance; an organism in which we tension and deform the hegemonic stories through processes, trials and errors. A fabric where we cultivate curatorship as a form of care and accompaniment.

Articles

22 May 2020

Dare to embrace the bodies

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