sick and tired of being sick and tired: how to tell a story of a body and what ails it?
Guest curated by Sumru Tekin
New work by Thatiana Oliveira and Madeline Veitch.
Opening reception First Friday, November 2nd, 5-8pm, 132 Church Street, Burlington, VT
On exhibit through January 17th.
“Somewhere every culture has an imaginary zone for what it excludes, and it is that zone we must try to remember today.” – Catherine Clément
“To be at home in this place means to be comfortable with unsynthesized intuitions: with unfamiliar things and happenings and states and presences that confound and silence the mind and decompose the ego…This is the state of vigilant alertness that maximizes receptivity to whatever the real strange thing has to offer.” – Adrian Piper
“We clamor for the right to opacity for everyone.” – Édouard Glissant
In “On Being Ill”, Virginia Woolf suggests that language is impoverished in the face of pain – it lacks the ability to describe the experience of illness: ''Let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry…He is forced to coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the other (as perhaps the people of Babel did in the beginning), so to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out.”
As children, we rolled a word round and round, repeating it until it lost its original meaning and shape in our mouth(s) – becoming something else. Referencing bodies and their traces, the artists in this exhibition create points of departure for us to make something else with the familiar, asking us to treat each act of looking and listening as a unique event, an attending to. “…how to tell a story of a body and what ails it?” is not a prescriptive statement but a call in response to the care-less states our bodies are subject to: calling forward an archive strange of the present and future to form constellations of proximity and distance.
Thatiana Oliveira meticulously performs a process of ritualized caretaking for a body in a state of perpetually becoming undone: wash, comb, sweep, sleep. What the body has shed is reconfigured over time by the artist, leaving more than a trace of herself. Oliveira subordinates the body - freeing it, leaving us to consider more through the sum of its parts.
Photographs and hashtags from social media sites are the sources for Madeline Veitch’s inquiry into the incommunicability of pain, and the potential for connecting, not despite that disjuncture, but through it. Vetch locates entry points within the gaps for us to see ourselves reflected in relation to others, rather than to a diagnosis or disease.
Through interactive installations, sound pieces, performance, video, and sculpture, these artists mine multivalent notions of connection and affiliation reflected in private, public, and imaginary spaces – offering resistance against the loss of what Walter Benjamin calls our “ability to exchange experiences”. Implicit in registering the body as a locus of discovery and connection is the presence of an I facing a You.
In these spaces we can begin to account for each other in response to the question, “who will speak about us?” Our lives and bodies – abject, uncanny, unruly – are not disciplined into clear and reductive narratives, but present and recognized as residues, echoes, and shifting vulnerabilities of lived experiences.
—Sumru Tekin, Guest Curator
Thatiana Oliveira and Madeline Veitch