This was the group workshop proposal week, each student had to present their ideas to the class to lead the group project in two weeks. This was my presentation :
The curve of the body
The curve is both an constructed ideal of Nature as well as an existing natural shape.
Xu Zhen is a contemporary artist from Shanghai. He is an artist engaged with strong socio-political views. ‘In Just a Blink of an Eye’ is exploring the body as the material, the body as sculpture. Xu Zhen captures the temporality of a movement stage, a second before falling with human sculptures of improbable circumstances. The body of people are resting on a support that allows them to fall with grace on white squares.
This work is pushing the limits of our body by the nature of these poses, defying gravity and time. Through art, he manages to change the way we think of time by freezing a second in space, not just capturing it with a photograph.
This artwork inspires me a lot of resilience, mindfulness and wisdom as well as a sense of humor and irony. The people seem to be capable of an impressive sense of balance and stillness. They seem undisturbed by the natural laws and human condition. The curve is part of the human condition. In that sense, Xu Zheng also offers us the vision of an ideal, a fantasy of stillness and acceptance that we would never encounter in Nature. He is changing the way we think.
“Perhaps things that cannot be done in other professions have been left for artists to deal with…It is hard to define an artist as someone who just produces art pieces…He is perhaps someone who changes the way people think.” Xu Zheng
Simone Forti, Dance constructions
Simone Forti also explores the idea of the body as material. She is using humans for dance constructions. In her series of movements, she uses props such as wood, metal pots filled with nails and inclined wooden ramps. I found the idea of a ramp very interesting to experience the slope, the curve with the inclination of the wood panels. In this piece, the people are climbing the surface using ropes with knots to facilitate the climb. The curve is a challenge of gravity.
Valie Export, body configurations, 1972-1974
Valie Export is one of the pioneers of performance art, she has been a key element of the liberation of women’s sexuality in the seventies. It is important to contextualize her work as the idea of being a woman using her own body as subject, material and vessel of expression of her own identity is a revolutionary act against the patriarchy. Valie Export embraces the curve of the landscape with her body, she accommodates and observes the surroundings to be able to offer the most accurate configuration with her body. This work is a representation of grace, observation, revolution and wit. With the curve, she uses the dynamism of the surrounding landscape, she uses the energy of the composition and embodies it to exist.
The last element of my research is the contrapposto which is not an artwork but a configuration of the human body originating Ancient Greek nude mythological figures and revisited in classical Italian Renaissance art. The contrapposto represents a distortion of the body into a curve, psychological position and a revolution of masculinity. The word ‘contrapposto’ means opposite in Italian, it is the position of the body that is created once the weight of the person is resting on one leg, bending the other leg. Instead of remaining firmly rooted on the ground with both legs, the figure is liberated. In Ancient Greek art, the contrapposto allowed the representation of the human body with its curves. The curve had an aesthetic function and was a canon of beauty. This pose is breaking the rigidity and the robustness of the figure which enables the S-curve in its composition. The curve is therefore part of a revolution in its essence. The contrapposto is a characteristic of the mannerist movement in late Renaissance pioneered by Raphael and Michelangelo and inspired by Ancient Greek classical art. They represented ideals of beauty inspired by Greek mythology. The contrapposto is an artificial curve, it is a pose that has been invented by humans to reveal the aesthetic parts of our body.