Critics’ Picks

View of “The problem with having a body / is that it always needs to be somewhere,” 2017.

View of “The problem with having a body / is that it always needs to be somewhere,” 2017.


“The problem with having a body / is that it always needs to be somewhere”

The Approach
1st Floor, 47 Approach Road
April 6–May 14, 2017

This exhibition, curated by Nora Heidorn, brings together eight artists, seven of whom are women. Proposing convergences and common lines across generations and practices, the works shown here attempt to capture and sometimes contain the female body. The show provokes questions about materiality but more crucially highlights ideas surrounding embodiment and the politics of belonging to or being excluded from a place and time.

Alexandra Bircken’s Doris, 2013, a headless, halved female torso made out of a wax cast filled with crumpled, grungy clothing, and Zilia Sánchez’s Luna VI, 1986, an oval canvas with a skin-like surface and two small, round objects attempting to push through it (think of the sentient television set in the 1983 film Videodrome) are fetishistic, corporeal entities that titillate desire. Juliana Cerqueira Leite’s Transitional, 2016, and Heidi Bucher’s Der Schlüpfakt der Parkettlibelle (The Hatching of the Parquet Dragonfly), 1983, are repositories for memory: Although both utilize methods of applying material directly onto the body, Leite retains a vivid liveliness by capturing it in motion, as Bucher’s latex- and mother-of-pearl-pigmented overalls—an ancient-looking thing—drags the past into the present. In a separate room, Paul Maheke’s Mutual Survival, Lorde’s Manifesto, 2015, a two-channel video installation, presents young performers from the Tropical Isles Carnival Dance Group practicing a number on one screen, while a single black female dancer seemingly lets herself go on another. Repurposing texts by feminist writer and activist Audre Lorde to produce a fictional manifesto, Maheke translates movement with resistance, poignantly reminding us that the problem with having a body is not only that it always needs to be somewhere, but that it always needs to be doing something.