opening 27 august, 17.00 - 19.30h
Upstream Gallery proudly presents Future Bodies, a group exhibition curated by Anne de Jong that brings together a group of artists who explore the role of the body through different technologies and from a female perspective. By combining historical work with the work of young, emerging artists, the exhibition shows the view of different generations. The artists work together with machines, merge with them or question their functioning. In different media and from various angles, the artworks in this exhibition shed light on the role of the body in the digitized society. Whereas the male perspective is still dominant in the (digital) art world, attention is paid here to the female gaze. The artists explore the possibilities and limitations of digital technology and virtual worlds for bodies in the past, present and future.
"Freedom doesn't mean being unburdened by the past. It means continuing into the future, dreaming al the time. A free body need not be whole or undamaged or augmented. It is always changing, changing, changing, a fluid form after all. Imagine, for a minute, what it would be like to inhabit a body without fear, without the need for fear. Just imagine what we could do. Just imagine the world that we could build."
- Olivia Laing in Everybody: a book about freedom
We are all born into a body, with and through which we experience the world around us. This body is subjected to all kinds of external projections and prejudices, such as gender roles and stereotypes. This corporeality can feel like a constraint, especially when one body is valued more than another. Now that technology has become so embedded in our lives, it is affecting the way we experience our bodies, how we look at ourselves, and the world around us. In the post-digital condition, there is no longer a distinction between the physical and digital world. Technology and the Internet are literally changing our physical lives and vice versa.
As more and more is determined by technology, this can mean a restriction of bodily freedom. Homogeneous algorithms foster sexism and racism. We are constantly fed ideal images on social media that affect how we view our own bodies. We try to control our bodies with pedometers and heart rate monitors that influence our behavior. We are constantly connected, but increasingly lose physical intimacy.
On the other hand, technology offers a possibility for liberation and emancipation. The virtual world offers opportunities to reinvent ourselves, to extend the boundaries of what bodies are and can be, to create new narratives and change old ones without the binary thinking and patriarchal patterns that are so embedded in physical life, where everything has a fixed name and place. New media have proven to be a feminist tool for artists to break down pigeonholes and push the boundaries of identity, body and space.
Image 1: Salomé Chatriot - Detail of Breathing Patterns (Basel), 2022
Image 2: Auriea Harvey (L); Martina Menegon (R), Future Bodies, 2022, Upstream Gallery, Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij
Image 3: Coralie Vogelaar, Future Bodies, 2022, Upstream Gallery, Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij