The convention of restorative anatomy and prosopopeia
In recent years, globally-expanded populist politics are diffusing discourses and positions, which foster gender inequality, favour forms of racism, endorse heteronormative visions, and increase new techniques of bio-political control. Conducting xenophobic public campaigns, current populist politics are primarily concerned with the construction and cultivation of “otherness”, and claim to defend western identity and liberties. Two processes do illustrate such dynamics nowadays: on the one hand, non-heteronormative behaviours are stigmatized as deviant or inappropriate and, therefore, dangerous; on the other hand, in the frame of current migratory crisis, bodies are objectified, measured and checked, they are turned into evidence to understand, through an “objective” data analysis, whether a human being has the right to require asylum or not. This year The Institute of Things to Come questions, how can we redefine the categories of alterity in opposition to politics of sovereignty, belongings, and heteronormative approach?
Attempting to envision body forms that escape mechanisms of objectification, 2021 TIOTTC will be transformed into a laboratory for experimental anatomy, where modes of bodily regeneration, metabolic transformation, personification, and physical/mental prosopopeia occurs. The invited artists engage with forms of embodiment that plays between authenticity and imagination, and discuss political issues that escape processes of domination and subjugation: they invent new characters, perform alter-egos, and explore self-representation engaging with bio-political fiction, gender materiality and counter forms of historical biographism.
Changing personalities and constantly playing with different semblances the artists experiment in forms of autofiction – i.e. forms of fictionalized autobiography - to deconstruct languages and ideologies that propose definitive distinctions between “us” and “them”. And in so doing, on the one hand, the “I” converts into the scene where processes of self-fabrication are exhibited; on the other hand, the personal sphere becomes a prism reflecting larger structural concerns. Such mega-structures of power and hierarchy as homophobia, sexism, racial discrimination, supremacy, and commodification of body, are tackled. Most importantly, proposing performative actions as a means of resistance to dominant and linear narratives, the artists deconstruct binary visions by using their own bodies: they activate procedures of self-examination of history to look at political significance through the lens of somatic approaches and physical mutuality with the past.
The 2020 program combines exhibitions, public programs and an associates programme supporting new productions for emerging practitioners. Along the year our Associates Programme titled "Biographic Disobedience" with artists Goda Palekaitė, El Palomar and Mohamed Abdelkarim, focuses on the life of marginalized historical figures, whose existences resisted and questioned cultural clichés and political impositions. Each artist produced a publication and will present her works live in her own contexts and online due to Covid-19 restrictions. We start in March with artist Mohamed Abdelkarim who, reasoning upon his new publication "Let the Sea Eat Me: To Perform a Ferry" will present a one-month program of performances in Cairo, to embody the state of migrating through languages, bodies, and writing genre. Investigating queer ancestry and history, the artist-duo El Palomar will recorded a new LP presenting the original soundtrack for their film "Schreber is a Woman": the film was premiered at Berlin Biennale and reinterpret the experience and writings of Daniel Paul Schreber from a transfeminist perspective. The LP is produce in a 100-copy limited edition and represents their first attempt to combine queer aesthetics with sound experiments. Artist Goda Palekaitė publishes her book "Schismatics", a 10-short stories of characters and narratives that have already appeared in her performances and installations. Working "with and against History" (Hartman 2009), Palekaitė reconstructs and forges the lives of forgotten historical personas, experimenting with literature genres to revisit mechanisms of knowledge production and propose trans-chronological perception of time. In June Palekaitė will also presents her work in her solo-show at Kunsthal Gent exploring the writings of christian mystics as proto examples of feminist literature.
In May, a double-show with artists Melanie Bonajo and Pauline Curnier Jardin will be installed at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin) to explore states of body metamorphosis and transformation. Bonajo presents "Night Soil – Fake Paradise" an installation examining the use of Ayahuasca and “alternate states of consciousness” as moments in which we redefine socially accepted categories of body-politics and gender normativity. In June, artist Pauline Curnier Jardin exhibits "The Resurrection Puddle", an installation, performance and film to celebrate forms of transfiguration, regeneration and hermaphroditism.
In conclusion "Guerrilla against the Unceasing Hostilities of the Living" curated by Michele Bertolino, collects a series of interviews to reconsider the role of zombies as symbolic equivalents of otherness in post-human and post-capitalist critique, anti-social queer theories and post-porn productions. The series is developed and published in collaboration with NERO Magazine.
In times of new forms of identitarianism "The Convention of Restorative Anatomy and Prosopopeia" brings together artists and practitioners to re-evoke the presence of absent historical bodies and build a genealogy of corporeal subjectivities that readdress the notion of “normality” and “alterity.”