I’d be ignorant if I’d speak as if knowing about the theories and concepts of the idea of an extended body, a body that goes further than our epidermis and we still feel it. I can’t quote anyone on this, because most of the interest comes from conversations with friends and engagement with artworks, increasing my feeling that, when a jumper breaks, I feel it. Or when a tire gets flat, it hurts, especially when these objects are ours and not a swap fiets.
The artists in the show deal with very physical and material concepts, or that’s how it feels for me: from the physicality of Machteld drawings to the care that Laura puts in fixing her tire. But it goes further, as it does not need to directly represent the body to talk about it, but sometimes gets in contact with things that literally touch it, like the helmets of Nora or the clothes of Bronwen.
The idea of ignorance is not only acknowledged but also appears as the opposite of the reading of these artworks through the theoretical lens. The aim is to look at these works from the material knowledge that anyone can connect and everyone has stories of, in their day to day experiences, as when Laura shows us the care and delicacy she uses to fix a flat tire or Nora enhances the strength and protection of bike helmets while pointing at the importance and fragility of what they protect; but also on more unnatural situations, as the drawings of Machteld, produced through the readings of her palm lines and imagining characters that can come from there or the mendings of clothes of Bronwen that work as energizers to produce absent bodies through the different clothes and its materials.
The selection of artists shows the different approaches to a similar topic, not only in their materiality but also in their methodologies, ranging from the more direct representation of ideas as the work of Laura to the more expressionistic of an artistic urge in the drawings of Machteld. On the other hand, in the work of Nora and Bronwen, we can see something very present in the current contemporary art world, and it is the focus on materiality, maybe as an opposition to the circulation of most of these smaller and younger shows online. While the transmission of these might flatten the works out, the artists’ decisions to work with different and unexpected materials bring us back to the mandatory effort to experience art in real life. This selection is also based on the urge to create networks and possibilities for the artists, putting in relation to different contexts and stages in their careers.
Although the exhibition concept and selection of artists were not thought concerning the COVID-19 it would be impossible to conceive an exhibition without thinking and, to a certain extent, reflect and react on the current worldwide situation produced by the virus. The works talk about the care we have to have towards our body but also the attention we need to pay to the so-called extended body, being aware of all the materials and objects around us and how the virus can rest in these. The exhibition display, previously thought of with a couple more works has also been reduced, allowing a lot of free space to navigate and contemplate the pieces. Only a wall that has been carefully placed at the entrance makes the audience enter into smaller groups but also divides the entrance into two paths, offering two ways to see the exhibition.
Nora Aurrekoetxea, Laura Jatkowski, Bronwen Jones, Machteld Rullens