BODIED brings together video by Gordon Bennett (AU), Cheryl Donegan (US), Wong Ping (HK), Jani Ruscica (FI), and Kawita Vatanajyankur (AU/TH); and an artist book by Alin Huma (AU/RO/JP) and Cheiko Kawaguchi (JP).
Uniting this internationally diverse group of artists is the positioning of the body at the centre of their work. The human body is twisted into strange new forms, is pushed around, is looked at and desired, as each artist explores how our physical forms are shaped by the social worlds around us. While there is humour in this exhibition, most of the works are a kind of protest, a position against unfair power structures that impact on the bodies and lives of some and not others; balancing this, others take up the problem of the expressive potential of the body in more open-ended ways.
In this way, the artists make use of the freedoms that the medium of video, in particular, has offered since the 1960s; thanks to the increased availability of technology, artists are able to set up situations that play with the capacity of the moving image and sound to act out surprising, playful and compelling scenarios that totally involve the viewer.
Contexts of display also matter: BODIED occupies the Centenary Galleries here, buildings that functioned as the police offices and law courts from 1905 – 1982. In this location, the exhibition can be seen as a poetic response to the human impulse to monitor and control other humans more broadly, the challenges of which shape us all today in various ways.
From positions of great sophistication and aesthetic originality, therefore, we can see each of the artworks in this exhibition holding open the possibility of adopting critical strategies and stances that might become the platform for new and better modes of being bodies together.