Every story begins in water.
So it does this exhibition, articulated while I navigate the edge of the water with my arms and legs,but also with my abdomen and jaw. The human body has a dual character: it is an entity between the material and the subjective, which gives it the nature of object and subject simultaneously. The practice of swimming is an action of displacement in which a phenomenological analysis of the body can be carried out and where one can reflect on what Maurice Merleau-Ponty calls "lived experiences of the body”*. That is, the body, through the use of intuitive knowledge, directs us towards a destination (determined or random) through aquatic space.
Swimming is an invitation to go forward, to entangle with the feeling of being completely immersed within a substance that we contain and which contains us. Water as a material extension of our body. While swimming in water allows us to experience our bodily condition, it also echoes the fact that “we are both materially and semiotically intertwined with other bodies of water in a gestating, interpermeating relation”**. These bodies of water might take various shapes such as a giant clam, a swam or a pipe system, capillarity being a quality common to them all, despite their differences. Movement produces spills, sweat and tears, as bodies are being pulled all over the place.
The exhibition gathers a number of works, some of them directly triggered by the act of swimming, such as in the case of Marc Vives who explores the capacity of water to express our feelings through speaking with the ocean, or in the work of Ingela Ihrman, who approaches the soft, the slimy and the living. Other works signify the action of thinking and making through the body such as in the case of Katharina Siegel and Elena Aitzkoa, while Carlos Monleón explores water’s transmission capacities.
Inside-out, water is a medium that produces an intuitive responsiveness in the body .
The body speaks to us when in water, but do we know how to listen?
* Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, (Routledge, 2015)
**Astrida Neimanis, Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water in Undutiful Daughters: Mobilizing Future Concepts, Bodies and Subjectivities in Feminist Thought and Practice (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012)