LUBION / 2019
پروژه جدید/ در مسیر تولید

Just weeks after first meeting, Douglas White and Mania Akbari began working on a collaboration that would extend through the next five years of their lives. A Moon For My Father weaves a poetic tapestry from years of written and filmed correspondence between the pair. What started as a conversation between two artists of vastly differing heritages, outlooks and artistic practices, quickly deepened as their lives began to intertwine. Family photographs, archival footage and imagery from White’s artwork intermix with documentary footage from Mania’s journey through cancer and pregnancy in a conversation which covers the most intimate layers of the lived experience. The Lubion series of photocollages employs a visual lexicon established by the pair in A Moon For My Father which follows a dream-associative narrative of bodily and material transformation. These images offer an otherworldly view of the deep psychological changes experienced alongside the physical changes of pregnancy. In Akbari’s case these changes were amplified by the cocktail of hormonal IVF treatments, from which the name derives. In each we see the body merging with, and becoming co-opted by, ulterior forces and landscapes- be it the branched womb-like structure of a concrete filled ants nest, or the tuberous, tumourous growths of potato roots. These subterranean amalgamations seem to present the experience of foetal growth not as a something benign, but rather in the context of more troubling growths which had previously plagued the same body.

At a time when the cult of the body reigns supreme, when ads serve up smooth and shapely figures, wellness trainers encourage you to breathe better, move better, sleep better, miracle diets promise eternal youth and medical treatments correct those imperfections we can’t control through rigor, health food and fitness, the body, though seemingly liberated and democratically devoted to its users, remains subjected to training and social formatting: to be strictly male or female, to function efficiently in the system of other bodies i.e. to im- prove, reproduce, and finally to know when to give way to newer and better models. The topic of the exhibition is corporeality multiplied, the moment the body transcends itself, the uncanny state which is impossible to tame and is blessed at the same time – Inner Life: The Bump is about pregnancy. We confront images created by the cinema with those of visual artists. Pregnancy is sometimes used as a met- aphor of the creative process. We undertake to refresh this cliché, treating the gallery as a symbolic uterus, in which a discourse is born amid blood, tears, amniotic fluids, biopolitics, physiology and mysticism, medicine, astrology and cosmogony, perennial archetypes and current disputes, patriarchy and feminism, horrors and miracles of internal life. Who owns the body in which I live? The paraphrased title of Pedro Almodóvar’s film is a pretext and starting point for us to look at how the body is treated in the modern world. It is both individual and collective – the body of a political, gender or cultural community. We will show films that get under your skin, like Marcus Schleinzer’s Angelo, in which a slave brought from Africa, passes from hand to hand and becomes the object of educational, religious, social and scientific experiments by white owners while his body becomes the sub- ject of fantasy. Flesh Out by Micheli Occhipinti takes us back to the African continent, to Mauritania, where local tradition requires a future bride to be fattened up for her fiancée to find her attractive. The girl’s body belongs to the community; has it been completely enslaved? We will check if the body is an efficient mechanism today, a resource to be managed or a source of suffer- ing. During the 19th New Horizons International Film Festival we will trace several paths of emancipation from the oppression of binding cultural norms and political systems. In the subversive Daughters of Fire, Argentinian director Albertina Carri (the star of this retrospective) creates a polyamorous utopia in which pornography is a tool for the liberation of women from the power of men’s control and masculine ogling. Mania Akbari and her partner Douglas White make A Moon For My Father, a personal story of overcoming a disease. Without shame or embarrassment it breaks the taboo – not so much of nudity as of the sick, the imperfect and mutilated body. She treats herself as an artifact and her own body as creative material, a sculp- ture. We see the triumph of spirit over the body in Sasha Polak’s film Dirty God, the story of a girl doused with acid by a jealous boyfriend. The protagonist’s internal transformation leads her away from treating her body as currency in the consumerist system of mature capitalism to allowing herself to be happy despite the lack of external beauty. So Pretty, directed by Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli, rebelliously takes a post-gender stand by asking what is the use of sexual liberation if we remain slaves to our hearts. Paradoxically, despite the film’s very progressive environment, it returns to the ancient Platonic concept that man is a soul with a body.
Ewa Szabłowska | Curator