Velvet 3 - House of Erotic Illustrations

Maksim Azarkevič, Ana Baraga, Mitja Bokun, Ana Brezovec, Milanka Fabjančič, Peter Ferlan, Maja Gorjup, Nina Kavzar, Dejan Kralj, Manca Krošelj, Nea Likar, Hana Nekrep, Maja Poljanc, Meta Šolar, Bori Zupančič, Sara Žičkar, Jernej Žumer

Velvet 3 takes the broad thematic field of eroticism in relation to the attitude(s) towards the body and the corporeal as its starting point, exploring it in a group exhibition of seventeen illustrators using a diverse range of visual languages. Emerging from several overarching themes – the relationship to one’s own body, sexual identity and different sexual practices, beauty ideals over time,“body positivity” ideology, body diversity, and science vs. invasion of bodily integrity – the works on display address how body normativity is constituted and what happens to the body while undergoing normativization in the private and public sphere. This normativization can occur in terms of gender identity by defining bodies as either feminine or masculine, or in terms of desirable body traits: skin colour, eye size, shape or colour, hair colour, etc. In this context, a normativization tool that we come across is aesthetic surgery, literally cutting off/slicing away at natural body processes and body diversity; or medical/clinical procedures, which are used to make intersex bodies conform to sex norms. Normativization of the body as a form of abduction of bodily autonomy, individuality and subjectivity is also hinted at by the theme of reappropriating the body (one’s own/feminine/non-binary), featured by the works on show; that is, in order for the body to become comfortable (again?) – in order to be a “happy” body – it must first be reappropriated and detached from the normativization, expropriation, and routine, indiscriminate sexualization. This process can take place by conceptualizing one’s own body beyond the gender binary and unbinding it from the construct of the masculine and feminine gender, or it can also emerge as a search for the displaced/uprooted, alienated lores, such as paganism, or in connection with various forms of witchcraft (including e.g. tarot reading) that facilitate the transformation of the feminine (or non-binary) body via contact with traditions and lores that have historically shaped it in active, palpable ways, and from which it can draw strength, empowerment, inspiration and resistance. In a similar vain springs forth the need for compassion and love for one’s own body, for nurturing it with a love that expurges the alienation, anger and shame produced in the processes of normativization, expropriation, and mass sexualization of bodies, thus giving the body a chance to reconnect, to exist in a state of mindful connection with itself. Only then can the body start becoming an individual’s home – a cosy, happy home – and simultaneously, in a liberated way, begin to offer a home space to another with whom it comes into contact; only after reappropriating and reconnecting with one’s own history, nurturing and domesticating one’s own body from within, can one also begin to reconstitute the relationship with others, and corporeality as a way of coexisting with another. In this vein, eroticism transpires as a matter of small, intimate gestures, whereas the pornographization of society starts to diverge more visibly from the erotic: it becomes clearer that pornography and voyeurism merge in opposition to the erotic – where the moment of imposition, of uninvitedness, disappears, and corporeality becomes a mode of expression, of free coexistence during the intimate contact, of exploration and varied expression. In this sense, Velvet 3 can be seen as an attempt to reappropriate, understand, and domesticate one’s own body because of – but not only! – the potential of an open, curious and sensual coexistence with others’ bodies and physicality.

Author of the project: Nea Likar
Text: Anja Radaljac
Suppored by Zavod Celeia Celje, Center sodobnih umetnosti

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