Staring from today, at Zachęta ? National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (pl. Małachowskiego 3), you may see Corpus, a group exhibition embracing a plethora of pieces related to the body and corporality, inspired by Corpus and Corpus II. Writings on Sexuality written by Jean-Luc Nancy, one of the most significant French philosophers of our time. The exhibition opening starts at 7 pm. The works will be on show until 19 October.
The exhibition will constitute an attempt to visualise the essential themes raised in the books: what is one?s own body, or that of another? What are our bodies for us ? something over which we have possession, ?us? ourselves, or simply the biological foundation of consciousness? When we think, feel, desire, are ?we? doing it or is this the action of our bodies? Are thoughts the product of pure reason, or are they also born in the body? Do feelings have their basis in a pure heart, or in a sensuous body? The works shown at the exhibition concern the fundamental questions over which Nancy deliberates, the sources of the idea of Corpus: those of one?s own and others? bodies, of written bodies and writing ?for bodies?, of thoughts and an extension of the psyche, of the auto-exhibition of bodies, of their anatomies, wounds holes, openings, entrances, impurities and finally of the body in the experience of pleasure and sexuality.
The original meaning of the word corpus (body) suggests the representation of that which is unrepresentable and Absolute. This idea is drawn from the Christian tradition and the words of Christ: Hoc est enim corpus meum (For this is my body). Nancy, however, develops an argument in opposition to the Christian idea of a division between body and soul. For Nancy, the body and the soul are an inseparable corpus. Nancy underlines the role that the body plays in religion, particularly in Christianity, where the body of God becomes a real, or even obsessive, element in the religion?s rituals and faith. If God is a body, then the body is godly, and therefore every body is holy. When we consume the body of God, we consume also our own body. This confusion, and the anxiety thence arising, Nancy diagnoses as the irrationality of the West.
Without the body there would be no ?Corpus? since this is the tool from which emerges the word and language that transform the sense of experiential matter. Each language, each word in another language is at the same time another body, an other. In a highly original way, Nancy argues that it is the body that attributes incorporeal ?sense? with the ability to touch (and therefore to touch other bodies). Thus, the body can be ?written?. Bodies as physically (but also metaphorically) written ? incised, engraved, tattooed, scarred ? are those that Nancy sees as most precious.
In Corpus II, Nancy provides an answer to Lacan?s dictum which states that ?there is no sexual relation? and builds a radical argument for a central role of sexual ties/connections as an inception of being together. This argument concerns the question of human autonomy, as well as the image and the reality of breasts as described in literature and poetry. It explores in addition the body as a place above all of finite pleasure: finite because it reaches the end, the limit, after which the body loses any kind of form and becomes a material and unfathomable (impenetrable) mass. It is based on an insight into the central role of sexual relations through a taking into account of the reproductive properties of sex and a recalling that we are all the fruit/product of sexual relations. Nancy continually reminds us that human bodies are characterized by gender and sexuality ? that we are sexual bodies.
artists: Marina Abramović, Samuel Beckett, Vanessa Beecroft, Valie Export, Barbara Hammer, Marek Konieczny, Birgit Jürgenssen, Sigalit Landau, Dominik Lejman, Zbigniew Libera, Klara Lidén, Sarah Lucas, Jacek Malinowski, Ana Mendieta, Duane Michals, Magdalena Moskwa, Clifford Owens, Friederike Pezold, Adam Rzepecki, Santiago Sierra, Alina Szapocznikow, Betty Tompkins, Hannah Wilke
curator Maria Brewińska
collaboration Katarzyna Stupnicka
Jean-Luc Nancy (born 1940) ? is a French philosopher and author of over 30 books and 300 articles. Born in Bordeaux, he studied biology and philosophy at the Sorbonne. Nancy is Professor Emeritus at the Université Marc Bloch in Strasburg. He has also taught philosophy in Colmar, Berlin, Irvine, San Diego and Berkley. In 1995, he was awarded a Chevalier Order in recognition of his services to French culture. Nancy makes frequent reference in his work to the philosophy of Jacques Derrida, with whom he was a co-creator of the deconstruction movement in philosophy. Derrida, in turn, wrote the book Le Toucher, Jean-Luc Nancy (On Touching?Jean-Luc Nancy, 2005) about Nancy. Nancy is also the author of analytical works on such classics as Hegel. The books Corpus or Corpus II belong to a rather different category, as they have the character of poetic philosophical reflections in which Nancy focuses on human corporality and its sense.
Most significant works:
La remarque spéculative (1973), L?absolu littéraire (z Ph. Lacoue-Labarthem, 1978), Ego sum (1979), L?impératif catégorique (1983), L?oubli de la philosophie (1986), La communauté désoeuvrée (1986), Le poids d?une pensée (1991), Corpus (1992), Le sens du monde (1993), Les Muses (1994), ?tre singulier pluriel (1996), Hegel ? l?inquiétude du négatif (1997).
for supporting the production of the exhibition we thank NESTOR
sponsors of the opening ceremony: DeLonghi, Kenwood, Freixenet
media patronage: The Warsaw Voice, Stolica, Artinfo.pl