Terrains of the Body

Brigita Antoni, Jovana Vujanović and Teodora Nikčević


October 25th – November 10th

“The body is simultaneously the firmest, most unattainable, illusionary, metaphorical, omnipresent and eternally distant object – a place, an instrument, environment, singularity and plurality. The body is the most immediate and direct property of my social being, the necessary characteristic of my social position and personal awareness while at the same time an aspect of my personal alienation from my surroundings.” [1]

Living in the contemporary world firstly means living in a time filled with uncertainty and risk. In such a system, the “search for the time lost”is a sentimental idea, replaced by the far more complex and constant search for the lost, faded self, where the phenomenon of the overemphasized interest for the body comes naturally. When the macro-universe turns out to be painfully insecure, the micro-universe becomes the only zone of security, and the return to “myself”a universal answer of the individual. “Myself”is the only place of control and stronghold of identity, which makes the body the place of direct inscription and projection of want.
In this new order, heterogeneity and hybridity install themselves as the basic characteristics which are evident in the works of all three artists, becoming the basic unit of the new subjectivity in which manifold potentials prevail, and the individual is met with an array of questions: how is identity even formed in such a constellation? What has influence on this identity – the society, experience, individual? Is there a constant that defines it? Am I my body and if not, who am I?

Playing with the categories of “authentic”and “created”identity, and its flexibility in face of itself and the society at large, the exhibition Terrains of the Bodyactualizes the return to self and activates an array of questions regarding identity and body as a tool of mapping the world surrounding us. It scrutinizes the effect of structural factors on the position of the body in the contemporary society, where the creators of Terrains of the Body construct an authentic terrain for a joint field of action, and offer a kaleidoscopic answer of sorts – fluid, multifaceted, rather a spectrum of possibilities than a determined solution, such as identity is in itself.
If we understand identity as a process of continuous mutation that produces and reproduces unique narratives of the self, as Giddens proposes, it becomes a reflexive project and an object of individual responsibility in a perpetual process of becoming. In this constructive process, the body has a role of being a tool in its definition and constitution, and as such exerts the syntagma “body as a project”[2]. In this way it turns more and more into a personal project, the object of autocreation while simultaneously being susceptible to external influences.

This cause-and-effect relationship of mutual interaction of the world and the individual is most directly confirmed through the performative part of Jovana’s work where traces of everything surrounding her become an integral part of her being, reflecting in herself. Jovana poses as a tabula rasa capable of taking on any role, identity, emotion, that she scrutinizes in the video project“Ever after”confirming to what extent playing a role can allow for the activation of countless possibilities of transformation. On the other hand, though countless the possibilities may be, Teodora turns to that which is most well-known in her work “Champion”– her own body. Ironically, reduced only to the “shell”, multiplicated, abstract and torn from its natural context, the body becomes an unknown with its own rules or lack thereof, serving to examine the need for adaptation and the deformations that it carries. From ground zeroand Jovana’s physical body, through Teodora’s (de)materialization, Brigita finally “lets go”of the body entirely. Thanks to virtual reality being “released from”the natural, or at least the physical body is entirely possible, which we strive for as well as establishing relationships without physical presence, presenting ourselves though a more experimental vision of self. The ultimate contemporary transcendentality.
If we take into account that one of the fundamental defects of the human body are its boundaries, then Terrains of the Body certainly resist them through its fluidity andheterogeneity, thus becoming the perfect agent of being.

Teodora Jeremić

[1]Bryan S. Turner, The Body and Society: Explorationsin Social Theory, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1984, p. 8
[2]Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-Identity. Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press, p. 54

Translation: Isidora Glišić
Photo: N. Ivanović, Miloš Radunović