CHAPTER II

FORMS THAT

ADMINISTER

THE BODY

Analyzing the relationship between forms and bodies, Forms that Administer the Body proposes dwelling on the notion of body politics. More precisely, it wants us to consider the reorganization of the body’s meanings from a perspective other than that represented—throughout the long history of art—by the external gaze on the (female) body. This chapter includes Liliana Maresca’s performances with the objects that she herself created as photographed by Marcos López; the photographic records of the relationship that Dalila Puzzovio established with casts, her “shells,” orthopedic remains she collected from the hospital; the replica of Ananké Asseff’s face she cast in bronze; the soft shapes that surrounded the body of Milagros de la Torre’s mother, the clothes that she documented with pre-digital photographic processes. When we refer to “forms that administer the body,” we also reflect on the downgrading of the administrative policies that institutions exercise over the body. Here, the portrait is a pretext. It refers, more exactly, to the exploration of a liberated legal territory, for which we do not have to—or we would not have to—ask for permission. 

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

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Liliana Maresca navigates the body and positions it in relation to objects, to her objects, which act as an extension of herself, of her own body. In this juxtaposition, in this coexistence, she reformulates private life. It is her, her naked body, among the forms she created with objects found in the garbage. Cirujeo, or “scavenger,” is the word that María Gainza used. In a 1983 photo- graph, among the montage of found objects, we see her pubis, a breast, her buttocks. Maresca reestablished informalism through the body and intro- duced eroticism. Instead of the patriarchal gesture of joining fragments with grandiose gestures—nails, hammers—she explored the fissures in what was found at the level of her skin.

 

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

If you accept a set of rules framed with good taste (determined, on the other hand, arbitrarily), the result will be the products of which official art is comprised, art that most people gladly accept because it shows them the rose-colored world they want to see. For example, someone might prefer an Athenian Venus sculpted in marble than a piece like mine, built with scraps (cardboard, wood, iron, and discarded material). Here sculptors don’t have access to those expensive materials to work with, but we do have garbage, discarded things, and a small margin to transform them into something else that shows reality.

Liliana Maresca, interview by Alejandro Dahia, “Una escultura underground desgrana el espíritu punk,” La Razón (Buenos Aires),

January 12, 1987; republished in Liliana Maresca. Documentos, ed. Graciela Hasper (Buenos Aires: Libros del Rojas, 2006), p. 166.

Dalila Puzzovio made Cáscaras (Shells) in 1963, and the documentation is from a performance photographed by Rubén Santantonín. The images portray the relationship between these hollow forms, which were inhabited and molded by a body, where the memory of the skin’s warmth and the material pulsates, surfaces she resignifies and places close to her own body. The scene plays out on a roof terrace under strong sunlight, with buildings under construction providing a backdrop that signal the rhythm of an expanding city. Those were years in which the population density in Buenos Aires intensified. The wash hanging out to dry, the pose, the structure that activates the relation between the forms: they ignite an age of urbanity and a changing relationship between form and body. The forms were installed at different heights in a gallery then known as Lirolay, directed by Germaine Derbecq, a French-born artist and art critic living in Argentina, who promoted avant-garde art. The images of this exhibition highlight the extent to which Dalila disruptively intervened with these bundles of shells of lives, with this arte de las cosas (art of things), in the artistic milieu of Buenos Aires. .

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

As the land, the Earth, is a plain invariably extended before our eyes, a variegated sprawl, so too are these works with their alphabet of broken and buried human figures. In 1962, while waiting to be treated in the traumatology service of the Italian Hospital, a nurse passed by with unusual bundles of orthopedic casts. These silhouettes telegraphed to me a continuous discourse of allegorical power that defied all the avant-gardes. Each discarded torso or leg contained secret knowledge. Through these “shells” of nonexistent perspectives, but with horizons and grounded theories of proportion, I tried to achieve a balance between the absent human figure and objects of the external world; between what can be confessed, the transparent, and the hidden. In front of these orthopedic casts, the viewer becomes a voyeur, looks and does not hear the drama that they sense. A continuous discourse of volume without color, each with its own provocative and enigmatic demand. A fresh sense of the dramatic, discovering the joke that one indulges in. These hollowed astral “shells” that we invariably leave floating are familiar talismans, where all has been said and preserved, and where no word is the last.

Dalila Puzzovio, Notes about Cáscaras, 1998. Dalila Puzzovio archive.

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Installation views of the exhibition Cáscaras , 1963, Lirolay Gallery, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Only dream the unspeakable, just do it until it is. Establish your own sea, your enormity.

Ananké Asseff

A replica, a mold, a cast of her own face, Ananké Asseff’s mask establishes a self-centered reflection. Between the skin and the bronze, the process institutes a transitional space. It is interesting to observe the extent to which, in this small sculpture, a distinct concept of self-portraiture—a genre common to several artists in this exhibition—is set in motion. In this case, it is not an external record on paper; rather, it is the relief that preserves the skin, the shape of the face in space. And yet she does so through a material that, in a sense, dissolves the analogy, as we see it differently. The metal is not the skin, nor is it the parallel visual record generated by the photographic image. Intimacy and distance—a focus of attention that contains affect and strangeness. The piece was part of a 2019 installation, Un Otro-Lugar (An Other-Place), that also included a banner and a video.

 

Andrea Giunta, Rethink Everything notes.

In Soñar mi propio mar (To dream my own sea), which is the replica of my face, I left all the marks, pores, and cracks of this casting, taking it as a kind of rawness to start a new path. I also believe that the position, face down to the side, speaks of a waking or dreaming situation, of waking up or not waking up, of how awake humanity is in terms of consciousness in our dealings with others, in our relationship with the environment.

Ananké Asseff, Rethink Everything, Talk #1, May 30, 2020.

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