Pictures from the opening night

I sing the body electric, the armies of those I love

So begins Walt Whitman’s ode to the human body. The body not as a biological category, but a body that seeks its raison d’etre. A body that is cultured, and in this sense, a body that is liberated, or enslaved, loved, or hated, understood, or shunned. A body that is well established in the way it is represented, or one that feels the fright of being out of place, that seeks to re-negotiate its presence.

In “I sing the body electric” Whitman celebrates the human body, its interactions, the “splendor” of its very existence, and the friendships, and experiences established through its presence. He seeks to “discorrupt” the body, as he puts it, to in a sense render it free of the burdens of negotiating its presence vis-à-vis other bodies.

When reading Whitman we cannot escape his 19th century sentiment, his Romanticism, and his understanding goes no further than understanding the body as made of flesh, and spirit. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the poem “I sing the body electric” is an invitation to think, and discuss bodies of the 21st century. Bodies human, and non-human, bodies in the sea, those of the forests, bodies in the flesh, and bodies on our phones; bodies of nature, and bodies in cyber space. Above all, the poem is a celebration, and yet an invitation, to discuss how we negotiate, and re-negotiate our bodies vis-à-vis the [cultured] world that we inhabit; how we situate ourselves in relation to it.

The artists selected for this exhibition are all representing the body in one way or another. Their bodies, the bodies of their friends, and the bodies of those around them, as they negotiate their presence in the relation to the world that they inhabit. Some artists are seeking to understand how to dialogue with the body and AI, video games, and cyber space; some see the body as an almost totemic shape, that of the womb, some seek to touch upon other bodies of other species, our fellow sentient beings, and how we situate ourselves in relation to them; some are simply representing the bodies of their friends, their daily interactions, and their loved ones.