Of shells, skin and bones

Curated by Marta Sesé and Cati Bestard

Of shell, skin and bones approaches the notion of body from its absence, from objects and elements that bear witness to its existence, that give an account of its materiality, representation and fragility. Bodies that expand the definition of the explicitly corporeal in order to address their materiality.

The shell, or protective prosthesis opens the exhibition through F.O.F Kasko bat and F.O.F Kasko bat - II by Nora Aurrekoetxea (Bilbao, 1989), two stainless steel helmets made with clay and resin. These bruised helmets directly signal the need to protect the body from something, to rely on superficial, hardened layer that protects the inside. In this piece, Aurrekoetxea draws inspiration from the idea “There is no love without a fall” from thinkers like Srecko Horvat and Slavok Zizek. The artist focuses on an issue linked to the very language of experiencing love: both in English (fall in love) and in French (tomber amoreux), love implies a fall. In Basque, to fall in love is “mitemintzea”, a word which also is tied to pain. As a result of this research, Aurrekoetxea presents a series of works that materialize the body’s natural tendency to protect itself from any kind of violence. In Ohe Grisa - Wall Grey and Bat the presence of a body is insinuated through the trace that remains on an inflatable mattress, in this case made from plaster, fiberglass, resin and stainless steel. Like the helmets, the vertical position of the mattresses, is not obvious and also, in some way, refers back to the idea of protection from the ground, or even leaving a certain door open to the possibility of falling. The body is absent, yet also present, through a trace that affirms its corporality: a weight, a volume and also a possible history linked to intimacy.
Anna Ting Möller was born in Yueyang (China) in 1991 and was adopted by a Swedish family at the age of two. Through the materiality of the kombucha, Ting traces a personal and symbolic journey of their ancestry and origin. During a trip to China, which Ting made with the aim of finding their biological mother, an older woman gave Ting a kombucha that has since been the origin of all of their works with this material. The explorations of kombucha as a mother, offspring, pollutant and its constant need for care, allow the artist to investigate the colonial roots of the systems of adoption by Western countries. Ting’s two works presented in the room are fragmented bodies. On the ground, Septum is a bone made of ceramic coated with a skin of kombucha, different in shape and scale to those of humans. In Deviated, located on the wall, the material is stretched, transformed simultaneously into skin and a canvas. Although in these works the kombucha is dry, if you were to wet it with water, it would be activated again, an action that adds a layer to its potential for transformation, in a queer sense, of those seemingly static bodies.
The work of M. Reme Silvestre (Monòver, 1992) explores touch and physical contact as forms of communication, and redirects the attention to the skin and to the molecular level, in an attempt to situate the contradictions and conflicts of the idea of a healthy lifestyle in the neoliberalist narrative, which organizes bodies, care systems and predispositions to illnesses. The hood-vessel, Al menos para mí, acts as a metaphor for the recipient-body where biological and chemical processes occur, and where information is stored and transmitted. Made of a technical sports fabric and solidified with resin, it also contains elements such as boric acid, which is used for the control of microorganisms and treatment of hyperhidrosis. On the column you can see the work 460214601846008, in which a compact polycarbonate plate holds discoloured natural hair, hydrocolloid dressings (specific dressings to cover and clean damp wounds of toxins) and an adhesive vinyl. The aseptic and the organic coexist in a piece that alludes to wound healing in a non-visible body
Cuerpos #1 Santa Águeda is based on Mirari Echávarri’s (Iruña, 1988) encounter with a Renaissance painting belonging to the permanent collection of the Museum of Navarra. The altarpiece depicts the martyrdom of Saint Agatha, a young devout woman from Catania who accepted to die for the Christian faith. In this audio-visual essay, touch first appears in the form of haptic visuality, an almost tangible image that turns paint into flesh or skin, painting into body. This approach breaks the conventional distance of aesthetic contemplation, diluting the boundaries between observed subject and observed object, and enabling a mutual contagion. The film combines critical theory and personal experience in a heterodox essay, intertwined with the author’s subjectivity, the body, affects, folklore and feminism.