HEAT- Exploring the Politics of the BODY, Exotic and Erotic

HEAT is a show that explores the contemporary values of the human body. The concept of this exhibition also probes into the body of the works that is produced by an artist. The normative body that has been identified as the human body is a field of action where all the life processes leave their marks. At the same time, this body is not a neutral space. In its turn, the body reorganizes itself to enact the social roles assigned to it. In other words one could say that the external demands make the body an ever-changing field. A consumerist world decides the shape and functions of the body as per the newly created social rule against the backdrop of a patriarchic aesthetics. So the body could be just a passive receiver or it could be an active rebel. The passivity of the body is an indirect tool that assures the neo-colonial and imperialist projects whereas the active rebellious body is a converging point of social critiques that resists the steam-rolling of the social values and culture.

HEAT looks at this issue in two different ways; one by seeing the body as an exotic object and two by realizing it as an erotic object. The exotic and the erotic are contributory factors as far as the human body is concerned. The exotic strangeness mystifies the familiar (body) and makes it erotically potent. At the same time, the erotic familiarity (of the body) is re-mystified by the exotic values artificially attributed to it. Blurring the bodily values with a strategically created exoticism and eroticism in the long run de-politicize the body making it simply an object of pleasure. The Cartesian duality of Body and Mind is subverted in this process. When the body becomes an all- encompassing and alluring object of pleasure, thereby distraction, the mind, as the creator of critique ceases to work. None could say, then, I think therefore I am. A strange sort of phenomenology comes into play here. Everything observed and understood through the bodily reactions dilutes the level of sublimation. Mind becomes second fiddle to body only to generate retrogressive ideologies that substantiate the making of body an object of pleasure.

The participating artists are Arpana Caur, Anita Dube, Kanchan Chander, Manisha Parekh, K.S.Radhakrishnan, Manmeet, Shantanu Lodh, Josh P.S, Shijo Jacob, Prajakta Potnis, Benoy Verghese, Satya Sai, Sabrina, Sindhu R.V and T.K.Harindran. Each artist in this show tries to forward a critique of the dialectics of body as and exotic and erotic one through the images drawn from our contemporary politics of the body as well as the images drawn from the art history. Most of the artists in this show depict the female body (the most potent tool of the market) as a field of action. They see how the gender politics is being subverted by the overriding emphasis given to `sexuality’ of the body. The critique of these artists are cutting and inspiring. Interestingly, no artist has taken this Cartesian dilemma to the levels of abstraction. The images at once become representational and non-representational. They repudiate the alluring nature of the market by creating a sort of artistic and critical allurement. One of the artists deals with death as body. It is an inverse way of looking at the erotic body.

HEAT, as the curators we are sure, is going to be one of the most hard-hitting shows in Delhi 2002 thanks its surprises and bold expressions of the artists.

(curators of the HEAT show)