“Corpus”

Zachęta National Gallery of Art
Pl. Małachowskiego 3
September 1, 2014–October 19, 2014

Jacek Malinowski, HalfAWoman, 2000, color video, 12 minutes 50 seconds.

Curated by Maria Brewińska and stemming from the works of French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy’s Corpus (2002) and Corpus II: Writings on Sexuality (2013), this exhibition explores the body’s relationship to sexuality, religion, and pleasure using contrasting mediums and methods which provoke sensory and cerebral realms. The show includes visceral works bordering on the unsettling (as in artist Sarah Lucas’s Lounger #2, 2011, exhibiting contorted, puppetlike sculptural figures in compromising positions); the grotesque (as in Jacek Malinowski’s HalfAWoman, 2000, a documentary-format film about a woman suffering from the fictive Pelvic Degeneration Syndrome, leaving her missing the lower half of her body); or even the seductive and soul-wrenching (as in Marina Abramovic’s Nude With Skeleton, 2005).

The perceived worlds of those both consumed and haunted by the flesh are fundamental components of the exhibition, which is littered with images of people packed together, sharing tight spaces, as in Santiago Sierra’s 465 Paid People, 1999—a work that cajoles viewers into considering the human body on a more primitive level. “Corpus” appears to be retrospective, yet displayed works still prove as inciting as they once were during their initial debut. The power of touch and allure of a body which now exists but one day shall not—much like all that is tangible yet transient—reminds one that both the moment and one’s worldly presence are inherently evanescent.

— Jacquelyn Davis