Il n’y a que du désir et du social, et rien d’autre, L’Anti-Œdipe, 1972, Deleuze; Guattari
The soul, prison of the body. With this reversal of the Catholic axiom Foucault supported what had already pointed Nietzsche: slave morality that is born from bad conscience. The subject (subjection, submission) is formed from the repudiation of certain desires. Before them, Hegel: the servants are liberated from the owner, yes, but to finish made conditional on ethical demands that they make themselves, rules that deny their body, that restrict their freedom. If we keep going back, already in the XVI century Etienne La Boétie labeled as volunteers servants eager to tyrants.
All thinkers whose voices echo in the work of Joan Morey, overlapping with contemporary reviews of the fear to be free rooted in the individual from the beginning of time. Each of his proposals is a referential palimpsest in a mixture of languages (scenic, literary, visual…) with which is trying to save the performance of mediocrity that seems doomed. A search of the insurgent essence of art reminiscent of that in other disciplines conducted Godard, Beckett, Artaud … authors also orbiting in the hypertextual network of Morey.
Far away remains the launch of the fake brand STP (Soy Tu Puta) with which this Mallorcan artist compared the art world and fashion industry in their servitude to the market dictatorship, but still uses the aesthetics of haute couture recombined with clothing and fetishism derived both religious iconography as BDSM practices.
Q- Your proposals address different issues but almost always underlies a parody of power relations (hence the metaphorical use of Christian and sadomasochistic symbolisms) in which your role could almost be compared to the Divine Marquis, perpetrator (from behind the curtains) of a little satanic mise-en-scènes with philosophical background, that delve into the paradoxes of condition human, servile and equally tyrannical.
Since the beginning of my career I have worked from abstract concepts (such as degradation, loss and emptiness) associated to the shadows and pessimism of literary, philosophical or poetic phenomena of modernity. This led me to explore different mechanisms of production ranging from creating a fictitious brand (with the acronym STP) and the use of marketing fashion strategies, back in 1997, to research the limits of perform-ated what remains the main focus of my artistic discourse: the unorthodox relationship between Master/Slave (which runs from the master-slave dialectic in Hegel to subcultural BDSM practices) in an approach or study of power devices in order to redefine them on a level of artistic performance. Such mechanisms are used for the construction of visual, oral and written proposals that reflect on ideology, religion or politics in its many aspects.
Although being compared with Sade seems to me a bit bold, I would feel more comfortable recalling the vision that Pasolini had of him, and how in one of his interviews about his latest film pointed the way Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma had to do with the Marquis: Sade was the great poet of the anarchy of power. There is always something inhuman in power -in any kind of power, be it executive or legislative. Indeed, in its code and its practice establish and apply the most primeval and blind form of violence of the strong against the weak ones, that is, of the exploiters upon the exploited. The anarchy of the exploited ones is desperate, idyllic and, above all, destined to remain completely unfulfilled. While anarchy of power is based in legal articles and praxis with extreme ease: the powerful characters in Sade just write the rules and apply them. Nowadays, these paradoxes of the human condition to which you refer remain, which is why I keep my statement firmly.
Q- In projects such as POSTMORTEM. Projet en Sept Tableaux (2006/2007), GRITOS & SUSURROS. Conversaciones con los Radicales (2009), L’ENSINISTRAMENT, Variaciones para actor, iPad y furgón preparado (2012)… you transformed space in a state of siege in which the viewer was intimidated. The feeling of confinement is intensified by restricting access to an elite, by appointment, subjected to a dress code… as if it were a secret society or select club. Can and should art stir consciences, but only will achieve it within a circle of initiates?
The active viewer’s presence is another of the structural elements in all performance projects. In no case I had the intent to intimidate or attack the public subjecting him to a series of ceremonial rules to attend a performance, but quite the opposite. I understand the subordination of the viewer to the structures defined by each project as an act of generosity. That a viewer is granted access to a performance (or is denied) gives a fundamental role in a work, although he is not even permitted to interact with it. Sometimes I have used subversive codes in the action, making the audience faces uncomfortable situations, such as having to request an invitation to attend, observe a strict dress code, be locked inside (or outside) the space in which develops the work or subject to compliance standards of behaviour. But each viewer does willingly, is he that decides to access, view or become part of such art production. Call it a kind of filter so that the work will have adequate spectators (as if to announce that is auteur cinema, not commercial) and that for the proper functioning of it, the need to reduce the speed with which today is consumed 99% of cultural production (in all disciplines) is essencial.
To take another more extreme example, OBEY. Humillados & Ofendidos (2007/2009) made in CGAC pushed to the limit the relationship between work and audience. This project was structured in 3 performances of 8 hours each, announced by the usual communication elements of museum in which the viewer was invited to NOT attend the performance. This negative attitude what was actually announcing was that the performance was not the work itself, but should wait (until 2010) to see the result. The project was materialized in the artist’s book MISA NEGRA. To this I meant about investigating the limits of performance and different public locations.
Q- You also appropriate of museographical languages, eg. in BAREBACK. El poder i la mort (2010) emulated museum showcases and used the liturgical elements that exhibition place (a chapel) itself provided. Barebacking, anti-prophylaxis sex between seropositive, risking life as final touch of sexual excitement: challenge death to regain sovereignty over one’s life, against necropolitics of Church and State, against the embalming of the truth about the body that ethnographic Museum represents?
I should like to correct your barebacking definition: bareback is a term used to refer sexual activity without condom. A practice nonexclusive of HIV-positive people or the gay community; in fact we could say that a high percentage of heterosexuals are barebackers, although they are unconsciously, so it is inappropriate to use the term to refer to sex between HIV positive.
At the time I made that project was an alert about barebacking, becominng a dangerous and unhealthy trend, especially considering the AIDS epidemic in the eighties and after the disease was center of many controversies related to religion, including the decision of the Catholic church not support the use of condoms as a prevention. At present, this conceptual subsection dims, as we have antiretroviral therapies that allow an undetectable viral load in a stable form. Furthermore, these treatments can be used as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) reducing the risk of infection in HIV negative people.
Although PrEP doesn’t reduce the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections today the practice of barebacking is far from the sexual phenomenon like Russian roulette in which the project focused attention. BAREBACK. El poder i la mort took the control as metaphor, redirecting us, among many other references, to Foucault and his Discipline and Punish (1975) in which he reflects on how modern society exercises systems of power and knowledge that attempt the conversion of individuals to docile and useful bodies, notably varying the pre-modern power systems and building up through lock and control mechanisms. In our present power is manifested in a set of overlapping shapes, shapes that combine old and new, pre-modern with modern, in which contemporary are added.
On the other hand I think there is no need to mention the role occupied by the Christian imagery in the framework of my work. Many of my projects are developed as site-specific or interventions that leave the place or context that houses the work and coincidentally have had the opportunity to expose in cloisters, chapels and sacred spaces that have undergone a change of use by whatever reason and they end up as contemporary art rooms. These spaces have allowed me to build situations, mise-en-scènes, sound installations or performances to their contents overlaps the historical background of each context, thus creating metalanguage places.
Q- To push the self to limit is another constant concern: confessions, agonized monologues, subordination exercises… In this conscience dislocation I suspect the will to rid the body of automatism (as Artaud said), retrieve desire potentiality, opt for evolving identitiy (Deleuze) that emerges when the being is questioned, pushed to the borderline.
In your statement you pull lots of strings that move us to an area of theoretical complexity. I think perhaps more important, or essential, that to have an adequate perception of my job is first necessary to understand first the grammar of performance. Especially because the use I give escapes the model of historical performance in which the artist (or group) is the one who performs the action. Personally I always work with professionals (actors, models, dancers, choreographers, technical equipment …) who are responsible for conducting the performance (I can appear, or not, inserted in the action). As a whole, the interpreters are subject to a rigid set of instructions or rules (choreographic registers, patterns of interpretation, motor restricitons and other disciplinary resources) to carry out the mandated actions.
Q- In LENGUAJE (Prólogo), just presented in the Majorcan gallery L21, you reduce the body to the zero degree of expression, nod to Yvonne Rainer’s No Manifesto, taking for your reformulation of performance the moment when dance was emancipated of classicist canon dissociating movement and mimesis. The Contrapposto, Greek ideal of contained motion comes to life (paradoxically) in inmobility of performer gesture. As if the words of Foucault (whose lecture The utopian body you pay tribute) were hammering the marble to rescue the real body hidden beneath the ideal, recovering its indecipherable essence: penetrable and opaque, open and closed… I think that ambiguity associated with the body is central in your work: you underscores his place as support of artifice and at the same time go desecrating each of their garments.
In this project, as you explain, I place the body (of performer) in the foreground, minimizing the maximum the structural elements of the performance (especially if we consider my previous work). LENGUAJE is proposed as a site-specific adapted to the architectural features of the gallery, turned here in a diorama more characteristic of natural history museums, in which a static and three-dimensional scene is represented behind a glass. The performance can only be witnessed from outside the space-showcase, which, like a large screen separates two opposite time scales; on the one hand, “suspended” time from the action in the performance (the inside) and, on the other, the “real time” in which the public is located in the street (the outside).
There is a quote from Yvonne Rainer in The mind is a muscle (AFTERALL, 2007) by Catherine Wood that perfectly summarizes the guidelines of this work: My body remains the enduring reality. Wood’s essay takes its title from a choreography by Rainer in 1968 to review the policy and the context that gave rise to that piece. Yvonne Rainer proposed a new lexicon of movement stripped of gestural conventions of dance and theatrical narrative that was an attempt to present the human subject in his own terms. This methodological approach identify LENGUAJE (Prólogo) which in turn has its origin in the preparatory sessions of extremely baroque project IL LINGUAGGIO DEL CORPO, held in Rome thanks to the residency program for artists and researchers Spaniards and foreigners in the Royal Academy of Spain in Rome with MAE-AECI Scholarship 2014-2015.
Both, this major project and LENGUAJE (Prólogo), focus on the study of the body in classical sculpture and its translation to a living medium of the performance, drawing conceptual bridges between antiquity, modernity and post-modernity but avoiding the use of historiographical parameters and adopting a critical attitude towards the (re)presentation of the body throughout art history. LENGUAJE takes the body of a dancer (performing a mimesis exercise, endurance and memory) and the execution and control work of a choreographer (on the dancer’s body). Both are used as material or communication channel and the presence of their bodies is intensified by two parameters: the direct relationship with the sculptural classicism (whose absolute priority is the representation of the naked human body) and the connection with the postmodern dance (that emphasized the use of improvisation in front of the technique, form and content). Thus is articulated a methodology that moves me (as artist) outside of the action and leads to both performers and spectators to confront the space of body representation with the idea of a “body-machine” which becomes in useful force when it is both productive body and subjected body.