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"Conversation with the Body" opens at MACT/CACT Arte Contemporanea Ticino
Stefania Beretta (1957), The last journey, Varanasi, India, 2013. Video. Courtesy of the artist.

by Mario Casanova, Bellinzona, 2017.
Translation by Pete Kercher

BELLINZONA.- Discoursing about the body is tantamount for some to discussing incarnation between the spiritual and mystery-enshrouded dimension of birth and the no less mystery-enshrouded and enigmatic dimension of death: a short enough journey between an event with inexplicable features and another whose features are infinite. That’s how we’d like to see ourselves when faced with the End, within the confines of a trail of psycho-corporal sufferings. A time lapse that construes our identification with the spirit become incarnate as a moment of experimentation of the consciousness and a biological continuation.

Even nowadays, mysticism leaves no page unturned in its effort to find answers, in a terrain where – because this is a question of faith – there are no answers to be found. Faith exists: it is not open to question. And likewise the body as the incarnation of the spirit.

This axiom brings us to diverse and differentiated diatribes between dogma and philosophy, whereby in the first case the assumptions made are not open to discussion, while in the second, philosophy – by definition – quite rightly questions every one of our gestures in a dimension of analysis. Considered in the light of these countless dialogues with the Universe, the body acts as a lens that gives us a glimpse of a spiritual existence related to the weight of physical constriction.

Nevertheless, it also represents the sensual and sexual body, the body social with all its codes of manifestation and affirmation, the body politic, the body that strives to survive through years and through illness, the body that also becomes an existential code. There is no annulment of the body without it involving the annihilation of the cultural spirit that the body contains and possesses. Violence perpetrated on the body constitutes the negation of the psychic and philosophical person who inhabits it, by either assassinating or dominating it. Every mental concept passes through the body and its expression of the emotions and passions: this is where the soul resides and it is ultimately here that we find the true definition of identity. These days, it is easier for individuals to be seen as a consequence of the exhibition of their bodies than for that of their spiritual essence.

The works and the artists featured in this exhibition are diverse.

The issues, as I mentioned previously, are related to the sexual body, the body politic, the civic body, the gentle body or to that other, more violent one; to the geographical body, to roots, without sidestepping the need to dig deeper into the concept of ‘power relationships’ that nearly always takes the shape – in a visible society as aesthetic and evanescent as ours – of war and of physical conflict. A union and a matrimony are power relationships, but so are separation and divorce. They include meetings, but also the conflict for each person’s own individuality and eternal solitude.

Everything touches the body if we construe it as a place of impetus and of passions: a form of reality that counterbalances meta-reality, the ideal we otherwise call truth. And every truth is unique, personal and personalised.

The truth belongs to us, while reality does not: the spirit belongs to us, while the body, on the contrary, does not.

We live in times when a life tears itself away from us, while at the very same time another existence demands its presence: a dimension we know mistakenly as Death.

Every artist in this exhibition has used different means at different times to express this clamorous sense of distress that makes human existence unique in its scenographic and choreographic splendour.

Artists: Massimiliano Baldassarri, Stefania Beretta, Jérémie Blanes, Carlo Buzzi, Giuseppe Chiari, Mat Collishaw, Martin Disler, Lior Herchkovitz, Ivan Lupi, Gunnar Müller, Aldo Patocchi, Paolo Ravalico Scerri, Sonja Maria Schobinger, Valter Luca Signorile, Daniel Tsal, Massimo Vitangeli, Erga Yaari.

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