Our sense of touch is linked to a part of the brain called the postcentral gyrus. The phenomenon of “phantom limb” – the uncanny sense that an amputated body part is still attached – is also thought to originate in neurological changes to this area, when nerves associated with the now-absent limb send signals that trigger sensation. Language around amputation emphasizes lack, but what about the prosthetic extensions that come to supplement a body in its new form?
POSTCENTRAL situates bodies as expanded territories, whose malleable parts might encompass prosthetics, strap-ons, or domestic robots. As corporeal space is extended outwards by technologies that aim to make life easier, and which support or reshape our bodies, what critical lines should also be drawn to shield us from capitalist incursion? What altered possibilities for sex, reproduction, and desire are simultaneously opened up?
The work of the artists assembled in POSTCENTRAL touches on the question of where “the body” can be found and where it might be heading, with a focus on non-naturalist ideas of women’s and queer bodies as spaces of futurity and potential. As Donna Haraway foretold in 1985, the exhibition stands “for pleasure in the confusion of boundaries and for responsibility in their construction.
Parenthood and domesticity occupy the same space as politics and the transcendent. Lynn Hershman Leeson reclaims the metaphor of the biological clock while Addie Wagenknecht turns a robot hoover from a time-saving device into a painter’s helper. Antye Guenther casts limb-like ceramic forms, and Xiyadie’s multi-armed figures recall Buddhist deities with the power to perform simultaneous cosmic acts. Marjolijn Dijkman’s hands without a body invite us to focus on what they alone are trying to tell us, while Jesse Darling’s support sculptures invoke the medicalized frames that a body sometimes finds itself relying on. Kirsten Stolle’s speculative cells imagine the inside of her body reconfiguring itself in response to genetically modified foods, while Zach Blas considers prostheses for resisting another bodily incursion – that of biometric facial recognition. Each of these artists imagines and performs the possibilities and limitations of a body and its appendages, to consider how we might live together in a wider assemblage of beings and things.