“Art suggests a way for us to see the world in which we live, and, by seeing it, to accept it and integrate it into our sensibility”. (Umberto Eco: The open work)
What exactly is the ‘modern’ body? We are inclined to think of our bodies as limited to what is contained within our own skin, but technology, philosophy, spirituality, religion, and science all challenge the idea. A Modern Body Festival is an initiative organized by artists / makers / performers Stelios Manousakis and Stephanie Pan, striving to explore the nature of our current existence, as it were, through the perspective of the ‘modern’ body. Through a full day event, we would like to explore the extension of what we define as our own bodies, and how we experience them, through art.
Art as research through experience
Art as research – parts creation (poesis), science (episteme), and philosophy (philosophia), it empowers its audience to experience and discover through it what can be grasped in no other manner.
We view this festival as a guided-research for the public: our primary goal is to enable visitors to viscerally experience the many facets of the modern body through art, and to plant a seed for further personal and collective explorations. In doing so, we are creating a complete and composed experience – a journey for the visitors that lasts throughout the entire day of the festival and functions as a coherent whole, exploring and exposing various aspects of the theme through different media, modes of experience and points-of-view. To this extent, we regard the project’s curatorial aspect as an art-work in its own right, whose role is to support an artistic vision that supercedes our own individual practices: it is about raw, physical and intimate experience, built as a multi-layered, organic whole. In this manner, we aim to provide a precise entry point and a concrete path to aid visitors in this voyage and to function as a framework for experience and discovery.
Modern Body Festival 2014 is composed of a number of performances, installations and lectures, each devoted to a particular aspect of our theme. Through them, we are interested in examining our own existence in modern society. We are particularly focusing on the effects of modern technology and communication in the body’s ways of being, becoming, and experiencing, as they are transforming the ways we exist as a society / culture / species. How we experience our bodies, or what precisely is our body, we feel is a global yet intimate and immersive entry point in exploring this topic.
Locations: architectural bodies
It is a distinctly Dutch phenomenon to find a collection of artists and organizations housed in the former Europol building, artist collectives in old villas, embassies, and office buildings. This temporary re-purposing of disused sites into living spaces, artist studios and (underground) venues is a quality very particular to the Dutch urban landscape and its psychogeography. There, community-based or arts-centered activities are allowed to grow in the temporal fissure between more formal uses of those buildings, becoming an important bed for the sprouting of the adventurous and experimental – in terms of the arts, social philosophy, and communal togetherness. By organizing our festival in such re-imagined spaces, we want to expose how these re-inventions modulate the inner identities of these buildings as they do the lives of those within, but also how they affect the neighborhood, the city, and the communities that are allowed to form and thrive in these temporary zones. For the above reasons, this recontextualizing and repurposing of ‘architectural bodies’ is a core element of the festival.
The idea of permeability and transversing borders, dynamically redefining boundaries, making them opaque or even rendering them obsolete is another core thread in this festival. The concept of ‘connecting’ is very important for us in two manifestations:
– connecting parallels worlds (‘connecting strata’): as in connecting different fields and art disciplines under a common thematic; highlighting connections between the diverse practices of the presented artists; connecting the rich underground scene of Den Haag to its various ‘overground’ or established art scenes, and confronting all with each other – visual artists, with performance artists, with media artists, with sound artists, with the grittier underground squat scene; linking local and emerging makers with international or more established ones, and allowing their works to modulate each other within the overall context of the event.
– connecting the inside(r) with the outside(r): as in, connecting the body with the world; artists and (simultaneous) audiences from Den Haag, the Netherlands and abroad; the underground in its own environment (squatted buildings) with the arts scene in their own context; composing a night that constantly evolves between media, making experienced visitors shift from being an inside(r) expert to an outsider layman.