, 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 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 (above). 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).