Haunted Bodies – Of Subjects, Cyborgs and Ghosts
07.07.2023 – 04.08.2023

Neven Allgeier & Samantha Bohatsch, Louisa Clement, Un-Zu Ha-Nul Lee, Maria Moritz, Murat Önen, Evelyn Plaschg and Julius Pristauz

The paradox of the body is that there is no outside. The moment we speak and think about it, we always do so from our own embodied position - with and through our body. The self-understanding with which we establish ourselves as subjects is mostly formed through the distinction from the Other: We recognise ourselves and we recognise the other, we know who we are, who belongs to us and who doesn't. This mode also forms the breeding ground for our own bodily position. This modus thereby also constitutes the breeding ground for conflicts. The collective "we" only grows in demarcation from the collective "other". In her monograph "Excitable Speech. A Politics of the performance" (1997), the philosopher Judith Butler considers this as the origin of violence. They are directed at the vulnerability of the body and legitimise themselves through the emphasis on the bodily alien. Another paradox - complicating the latter rather than standing alongside it as an accomplice - is the digital presence of bodies. Through our digital identities, we surrender our corporeality, alienating ourselves from its presence in favour of a disembodied, ghostly presence that takes place within us but also simultaneously outside of us. The idea that body and consciousness are separate and the former merely serves as a shell for the latter is thus outdated for the present, even if it cannot simply be dissolved into the contrary. With the transfer to the digital, we might be moving back into an actual dissolution of the carnal body, towards a digitally expanded corporeality. But this dissolution is certainly not a turning away from the physical body. Back in the corporeal present, the body is nevertheless always emphasised as the main medium of the subjective. We are talking about the optimisation of bodies, disciplining of bodies, projections and reflections on and against them, all of which exist simultaneously, as the body oscillates between body surface and political object. However, instead of the body being autonomous (think of modes of contemplation or the argument that the body functions as a visual communication surface), it is much more the bodily archive of biopolitical power effects. In the net of life, our bodies are confronted with altered capitalist techniques of value creation that haunt our inner as well as outer subjectivity. Thus, the body of the present, in its corporeality, exists as one without sovereignty, as it is shaped by discursive powers, whether through the finding of its own contour by the Other or through biopolitical, scientific, economic or visual practices. The body of the present is one without form, one haunted by ghosts, a haunted body. The body of the present is one that is only formed through the performative living and experience, through the incarnation of the norm, through the existence of organised spaces of action. The interest of the exhibition Haunted Bodies. Of Subjects, Cyborgs and Ghosts is to explore visual representations of specific subject configurations in their mediality and artistic language and to bring them into dialogue with each other. What powers are realised in the artistic identity-body-subject designs? The invited positions negotiate different power structures on and with the body through their sculptural, painterly, photographic and performative practices.

Curated by Seda Pesen, Leon Jankowiak
Text by Seda Pesen, Leon Jankowiak
Photos by Jakob Otter
©Magma Maria 2022