Physical bodies have become the bodies of art: no longer external objects observed from outside, to be represented and interpreted, no longer a simple fact of reality to be told and reproduced, but the surface of painting and action.Read more
In tribal rituals and initiation liturgies, the body becomes an expressive means, a testimony and a base on which to trace signs and inscribe messages.
Art over the twentieth century has changed its relationship with the body, mixing art with life and breaking down all traditional barriers.
Physical bodies have become the bodies of art: no longer external objects observed from outside, to be represented and interpreted, no longer a simple fact of reality to be told and reproduced, but the surface of painting and action, they are themselves material, linguistic instruments, means for artistic invention.
This volume – published for the exhibition at the Mart –aims at exploring this language of both art and life, through the works of a series of artists of different nationalities who, reassessing a irreducible physicality and a sensual and organic relationship with reality – against the technological rhetoric of today’s video art – have used and use the body as the matrix of their sign, their expressive matter, the “receptacle of the soul”.
Thus we have the historical exponents of Viennese Actionism, the work of the Japanese Gutai Group - who around the fifties used their bodies as a living pictorial instrument (from Fujiko Shiraga to Akira Kanayama, up to today’s Shozo Shimamoto) - and important works of the sixties and seventies, starting from Yves Klein’s “anthropometry” and the “imprints” or “living sculptures” of Piero Manzoni, which opened the road to Body Art and Conceptual Art. In Body Art actions have been chosen that - though responding to primitive, uncensored, almost barbaric language, actual movements displaying suffering and anxiety - bear witness to a “being of this world” as a transmission of signs, a continuous exchange of energy as in works by Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Vito Acconci, Arnulf Rainer and Paul McCarthy and also works by exponents of Poor Art (Giovanni Anselmo, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Gilberto Zorio and Giuseppe Penone), the Fluxus Group (Ben Vautier and Carolee Schneemann) and performances by artists such as Annette Massager, Ketty La Rocca, Valie Export and Mona Hatoum.
The nineties, the age of globalisation, the fall of walls, the annihilation of all places in universal space, are represented by artists who seek new forms within their own identity and culture – Adrian Paci, Rachel Lachowitz, Giuseppe Achille Cavellini, Shirin Neshat, Catherine Opie and Ross Sinclair – while in video, which more and more often replaces live action, changing “bodily substance into imaginary substance”, we have the works of Gary Hill and Vanessa Beecroft.