, A.K. Burns,
, Tianzhuo Chen, Merlin James
, Sarah Lucas,
, Sterling Ruby
, Mark Shorter,
Curated by Talia Linz and Alexie Glass-Kantor
Visitors please note that this exhibition contains strong language, nudity
and explicit imagery.
Artspace advises that all minors should be accompanied by a supervising adult.
25 August – 23 October 2016
Thursday 25 August, 6 – 8pm
Public Program — Discussion and Performance
Saturday 27 August, 2pm
More information here
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THE PUBLIC BODY .01 is the first of a three-part speculation on one idea. Over the next three years THE PUBLIC BODY .01, .02 and .03 will explore various facets of the notion of the public body with three distinct yet interrelated exhibitions.
We begin at the closest and most intimate point: this vessel that we all occupy with its myriad physical and sexual selves. THE PUBLIC BODY .01 explores contemporary representations of the body and, in particular, the naked and/or sexualised body. The start is the surface — of the body, and of image circulation in the twenty-first century.
The second iteration, THE PUBLIC BODY .02, will delve deeper and look back to artists whose practices beget those seen here. This exhibition will highlight work across decades that is embedded in feminist, queer and anti-racist subjectivities, revisioning a certain history of representation and addressing the individual and collective agency of the public body.
The final exhibition in 2018 turns to Artspace’s own identity as a type of public body, drawing on our multifaceted history and extensive archive to mark our 35th anniversary.
The body is the first material; skin, the original interface. From Eve to the Kardashians, the body — as subject and object — proliferates throughout all realms of popular imagery. Bodies, literally and visually, occupy more space in the public realm than ever before. Across contemporary platforms for representation the body is co-opted as commodity, fashioned as threat, exploited for political and economic gain, fetishised, idealised, and instrumentalised as consumer and consumed in the market economy.
The body and, in particular, the unclothed body, has also marked the history of art perhaps more than any other form or subject. In his 1956 survey The Nude: A Study in Ideal Form art historian Kenneth Clark wrote of the difference between the nude and the naked: ‘A naked human body is exposed, vulnerable, embarrassing … The word 'nude', on the other hand, carries, in educated usage, no uncomfortable overtone. The vague image it projects into the mind is not of a huddled and defenceless body, but of a balanced, prosperous and confident body’.
The nude’s artistic ‘worth’ has been legitimised and reinforced by the historical canon and institutional structures that attribute value by collecting and exhibiting certain representations of certain bodies and omitting many others. The 70 intervening years have done much to break apart this arguably arbitrary distinction, with artists raising questions about the role of the male gaze, patriarchal subjugation and heterosexual bias, the fetishisation of bodies of colour, the invisibility of certain types of bodies and privileging of others.
Yet despite this, and despite the proliferation of nakedness and sex in contemporary popular culture, there is still a danger in dealing with this type of imagery. There remains a divide in the treatment of historical versus contemporary representations of the naked human form, desire and sexuality. Somehow the naked can’t be touched, and yet the naked is the capital in which we deal with representation every day.
Bringing together the work of 17 contemporary living artists, THE PUBLIC BODY .01 explores the sexualised body and, in particular, the types of sexualised bodies that proliferate in the public sphere today — high key, orgasmic, debased, agitated, violent but also self-empowered, vulnerable, revealed, free. Practices adopt and manipulate tropes of mainstream representation to highlight the ongoing objectification of women. Conscious attention is given to bodies marginalised by mainstream depictions of sex and desire. THE PUBLIC BODY .01 investigates the politics of disclosure and subjectivity, the implications of nakedness and the contested space of the body in and through media and its mechanisms for exposure.
On Saturday 27 August at 2pm, Artspace will present a panel discussion facilitated by Professor Jill Bennett, UNSW Art & Design, reflecting on four local exhibitions examining the body as nude and naked, post-human and as patient: New Romance, Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), curated by Anna Davis; The Patient, UNSW Art & Design (UNSWAD), curated by Bec Dean; and Nude: art from the Tate collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), co-curated by Justin Paton, AGNSW and Emma Chambers, Curator of Modern British Art, Tate, London.
The discussion will cover areas such as the contested space of the body and the approaches artists take locally and internationally when considering the space of the body through time, the pragmatic processes of commissioning new work and working with collections, inter-institutional collaboration and risk, articulating context, and ways of engaging new audiences.
This will be followed at 4pm by a new performance work by The Public Body artist, Mark Shorter.
Carter Mull’s photographic work considers the meaning of images and is embedded in a world in which visual bombardment is omnipresent to the point of oversaturation. When you cross the threshold of THE PUBLIC BODY .01, you enter his installation Broker and walk upon each of the 2640 individual photographic stills that represent one minute and thirty seconds of film shot by the artist. The images are deliberately deadpan and tongue-in-cheek: a generic rear end adorned with fake tattoos of emoji-type signifiers for love, money and that ubiquitous visual cliché that designates ‘artist’ — the painter’s palette (perhaps a nod to Mull’s origins as a painter).
Mull’s inquiry into the rigid codes of medium, such as analogue photography and production processes, belies an awareness of how art is produced and formatted in our ever-changing present. His work and technique situates him squarely in what might be called the post-digital photographic world, in which the often overstated contention between film-based photography and digital images seems to have dissipated, leaving us with a hybrid form of image, ripe with possibilities of interpretation and investigation. In a recent interview Mull said:
I’m interested in what kind of agency one can have with the tools that are most readily available now that darkrooms and certain film stocks are disappearing… There is a difference between what we actually process and what we are cognisant of processing in the consumption of a work. As a result, this relationship between information and time is as important as any single signifier of meaning in the image.
An essential examination of information and visual culture is at the heart of Mull’s project. Within this immersive, analogue photographic installation, the audience is situated
Mull’s work has been exhibited widely, most recently at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Presentation House, Vancouver; Domaine Departement de Chamarande, Paris; Marc Foxx, Los Angeles; and Gagosian Gallery, New York. His work is in the collections of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; LA Orange County Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
2640 sheets of Galaxy Holographic film and offset ink on mylar, edition of 1 + 1 AP, installation dimensions variable
Photo: Jessica Maurer
Courtesy the artist and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles