Perpetua (flesh)

Catalina Bunge
Oct 19, 2014 2:19PM

Throughout history, human beings have painfully struggled to understand the reason of their existence. Reason insists on revealing and grasping the mystery of the meaning of life and the universe, trying to reduce anything that is not understood to something that may be kept, filed, perpetuated. In modern times, according to Baudrillard , the real world begins with the decision to transform it through science and analytical knowledge. Distance from the natural world is shown by the invention of an Archimedes point outside the world, thanks to Galileo’s telescope.

The moment something is named, when the concept and the representation get hold of it, the path towards becoming a fact and/or an ideology begins and its energy fades away. The impulse to capture everything we can through devices at hand (photo cameras, phones, notebooks, etc.), the innocent obsession to compulsively freeze images and experiences and the persistence of consumption entail the risk of growing apart from the real world and losing it.

The carnivalization and cannibalization phenomena presented by Baudrillard are intrinsic features of human beings. Therefore, we may hypothetically think of an extremist attitude as a determining physiognomy of the complex contemporary specimen. Is the eager desire for perpetuity a possible feeling of inferiority followed by a longing for control and thirst for power? Aesthetic surgeries, mutilations, human trafficking and even genetic alterations seen in the current scenario make us think about this characteristic feature of the individual, beyond any moral judgments, if possible.

An attitude that leads us in many cases to act on the body – our own and others’ – (self-flagellation and sadomasochism or even one body against another as is the

case in hand-to-hand battles, sports, etc). The body as a means of power control and pleasure . Actions that seem to set the limit between life and death, between being created and being creators. A fantasy of domain over our body, our life and hence, over God. This body is also political and social, metaphorical bodies which denounce contemporary times and their complexities.

In the 19th Century, Francisco Goya, motivated by the atrocity of war, portrayed his bleak outlook on humanity with his black paintings. He produced violent and terrifying scenes that darken the atmosphere of his paintings and murals, such as Saturn Devouring His Son. This bloodcurdling piece may be interpreted in many ways; the one which deserves to be pointed out here is the artist’s revealing intention to represent Saturn’s (sometimes translated as Cronus) desire to recover his youth, driven by the deep fear that reaching the end of his life produced in him. The idea of this condemnation of desiring the extreme, what leads us away from what is normal or adequate...Does it have anything to do with a longing for the sublime? The sublime, something so purely beautiful that it causes pain instead of pleasure. André Breton wrote “Beauty will be convulsive or will not be at all.”

The exhibition is aimed at questioning the search for the extreme to define ourselves and the sublime as a state of pleasure and pain. Flesh is a symbol of mortality; mostly, it is an analogy of the body in its most crude and literary sense. Human beings as butchers and the skill to cut into pieces, to butcher, to enclose and destroy something, reducing it to a form that may be easily consumed.

The physical or symbolic action over the body as a justification, on which we rely as mortal, limited beings. An exhibition about the perpetuation of flesh. Three artists who present the subject from different points of view, subtly associating flesh with the body, protector of the soul; the vulnerable and flagellated body; the body as a sign of life and, therefore, also of death. 

Catalina Bunge