“After World War II, an industrialist converted the machinery used previously for the production of bombs into instruments for the making of hair dryers for beauty salons. The sophisticated technologies of war were thus transformed into devices for the perfecting of the “body” as a socially and culturally determinate concept. It was the same historical moment in which the word gender began to be used in the political arena, to describe no longer a natural sexual identity, but instead one that was artificially constructed and therefore commodifiable.”
Abstract Sex. We don’t have any clothes, only equipment is an innovative off-site exhibition project of Artissima, extending into the city and occupying the spaces of Jana, the fashion boutique on Via Maria Vittoria that has always been a reference point for artists, writers and other cultural figures. The exhibition – conceived by Ilaria Bonacossa and curated by Lucrezia Calabrò Visconti and Guido Costa – focuses on the theme of desire, in line with the fil rouge of this edition of the fair. Poised between an action of piracy and an exhibition, the project features photographs, videos, works on canvas and paper, and objects on loan from galleries taking part in Artissima.
Abstract Sex. We don’t have any clothes, only equipment weaves minor historical and contemporary narratives and suggests unexpected alliances between bodies, objects and machinery, to disarm the traditional representations of desire. The show brings together unexpected instruments, hybrid devices and deviant technologies, suggesting a crosswise perspective between the virtual and the material, in which everything around us can be rethought as equipment, a weapon at the service of the definition of new mythologies.
Borrowing the title of an essay by Luciana Parisi, the exhibition Abstract Sex operates in a context in which our subjectivity is only one of the forces that cross the body, a porous platform of information exchange at the level of bacteria, data and media, where the microscopic politics of biotechnology meet the macro-politics of the socio-cultural and economic system in which we live. In a historical era in which the very definition of the “human being” is increasingly negotiable, Abstract Sex suggests themes such as dis-identification, post-pornography, opacity and hybridization as possible ambits of production of autonomy.
In the words of the curators: “While the radical experiences of the 1970s invoked emancipating and revolutionary strategies of desire as a possibility of escape from capitalist apparatus of control, the contemporary ‘libidinal society’ completely integrated terms such as pleasure, sex and love into what has been defined by Paul B. Preciado as the ‘pharmacopornographic regime’. Tamed by the political and financial infrastructures of neoliberalism 2.0, desire translates into a drive aimed towards objects for consumption and normalised lifestyles, suggested online by algorithmic structures. Due to the pervasive spread of the new technologies, a concept of the body has emerged where it is dilated and has unstable boundaries, in which the simulation of real experience increasingly supplants action in reality, with ambivalent political consequences. For example, while on the one hand cybersex has finally liberated female pleasure from reproductive functions, on the other it has led to the triumph of an economy of immaterial pleasure of a patriarchal order. What type of strategies and allies exist in the reappropriation of desire, emancipating it from the dichotomies and values imposed by the techno-patriarchy?”
Visitors to this exhibition must be over 18 years of age.
Special Project Partner: Kristina Ti