The worldwide experience of lockdown and the adoption of social and physical distancing have made us reconsider the idea that our bodies are sealed units. Did we forget how porous we actually are?
Becoming aware of our vulnerability triggered the rise of borders, fences and barriers around our bodies, homes, social circles and countries, bristled with concerns and suspicions. This situation has increased the already existing inequalities, when it comes to class privilege and exposure to risks. But in the deepening separation between public and private, we became aware that we actually touch and are touched more than we used to, which compels us to redefine our connections as well as our proximities.
“Why should our bodies end at the skin?” asked Donna Haraway1. Antibodies is an exhibition attempting to think through and with skins. It aims at developing several registers of affectivity and presence through the haptic, this tactile relationship that does not require physical contact. Physical estrangement asks for a renewed sociality.
The artists gathered for Antibodies report on caresses, whispers, breathings and threats delving into our emotional transactions and our social relationships. While the exhibition does not turn the current health crisis into a topic, the artworks, as well as the relationships woven between them, allow for an exploration of distance and touch, considering the political and poetic load of the two terms.
The exhibition title’s polysemy then becomes clear as we embrace the new imposed norms and forms of togetherness (distancing) while opening up the horizon for a new social eroticism (touching). It also seems crucial, as Susan Sontag2 once claimed, to substitute the military metaphors often attached to the functioning of our immune systems for a different lexicon, and get busier with hospitality. As such, Antibodies is an invitation for audiences to experience Palais de Tokyo both as a home (in vitro) and a living network (in vivo). This also means thinking differently about the ephemeral communities that Palais de Tokyo may create and gather, and more specifically the relationships that are suggested between audience and artworks.
La Manutention, Palais de Tokyo’s residency for performers, invites Josèfa Ntjam, from October 29th to November 19th, 2020, every Thursday from 7p.m. to 10p.m.
A series of events will be programmed to echo some of the issues raised by the exhibition, while the experience of Antibodies will be extended and enhanced by content made available online for “off-site” use.
A.K. BURNS, XINYI CHENG, KATE COOPER, PAULINE CURNIER JARDIN, KEVIN DESBOUIS, FORENSIC ARCHITECTURE, LOLA GONZÀLEZ, EMILY JONES, FLORENCE JUNG, ÖZGÜR KAR, NILE KOETTING, TAREK LAKHRISSI, CAROLYN LAZARD, LEN LYE, TALA MADANI, JOSÈFA NTJAM, DOMINIQUE PETITGAND, GHITA SKALI, KOKI TANAKA, ACHRAF TOULOUB