THE BODY AND THE WORLD
Text statement prepared for the project 'Welcome Stranger' and exhibited at the opening in Amsterdam on March 1993.
In the recently filmed remake of James Fenmore Cooper's novel, 'The Last Mohican', set in conflict-torn 18th c. America, there is a scene where the heroine, clasping her lover tightly as French cannonballs fly about the English besieged fort, makes an observation concerning the parallels between her feelings and her circumstances:
"It seems like the entire world has caught fire."
In a single line the screenwriter has captured that strange, bitter-sweet sensation that the dramatisation of history often evokes in us-- the idea that the words and deeds of the past are more simple than what we think of as occurring today.
The body and the world pose two extremes. In their extremity they lie so far apart that they actually meet. The body at a particular point becomes the world and the world becomes a body.
Consider the implications of spending time in bed as an instrument to explore our ideas about the world. Almost every human at one time during their life has the experience of spending a period in bed with someone with which they have fallen in love. It is very special. The bed becomes a world unto itself. Completely self-contained. Closed. Time stops and everything that one needs seems to be right at hand. Two bodies, pillows, sheets and blankets form the contours of an island...
The bed experience is binary, a special case of the sexual dynamics that arises between two organisms, but it can also be reduced to the experience of a single individual, a body and mind, in a Cousteau-like self-contained state.
The first time that Ishmael saw Queequeg in Moby Dick, he observed how the savage preferred to keep his own company and enjoyed it so much that he was nearly oblivious to the presence of other men around him. That is, he displayed no need to engage in conversation, no need for standard social intercourse as a way of establishing his position in the hierarchy of things. What an admirable image this created for Ishmael! In Queequeg he saw an example of an individual who had created a territory all of his own, with its own inner weather, with its own physics and logic.
The world is a big body, much larger than our own. Individuals form its cells, and societies, peoples and nations are its organs.
Information. The world exists and takes its shape through the information of our senses and their extensions, the media . Through our constant surveillance and monitoring of every corner of the globe we have detailed knowledge of human pain and suffering, of exploding human numbers and poverty, of the widespread perversion of technologies and education, of rampant corruption and greed. The world image has become so overwhelming that each of us is forced to ignore much of the information we receive--we are forced to specialise, restrict ourselves to narrower and narrower views.
Our group's work (Kool, Manders, Perry, Robbé) for the final project in the Stadhouderskade 112 involved an attempt to define and separate our (deep) individual wishes from our artistic ideas and discuss the importance of their potential fulfilment.
For this final project in the Stadhouderskade 112, our group (Reneé Kool, Mark Manders, Paul Perry and Lon Robbé) decided to separate our (deepest) wishes from our artistic ideas and discuss the importance of their potential fulfilment.
From the results, it would appear that the wishes of the 'artist' are 'traded' more easily than personal wishes. We find that the wishes of the body are difficult to reveal and formalise into a language common enough to be recognisable to others. The wishes of the artist already begin upon a ground of established structures and dynamics--that of the existing art world.
This artist wishes to take his girlfriend, to somewhere in conflict-torn Africa where it is still possible to get a visa, to Rwanda, say, or Angola or Sudan. To fly in for a week's stay and remain the entire time in the hotel room as a 'performance'. The artist wishes to write the words "Short Hair, No Peace" on the wall and then hire a local photographer to come up to the room and document the event in pictures.
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