17 November 2023–28 January 2024

Image courtesy of Maja Malou Lyse

BODIES AND ANTIBODIES offers plural understandings of the mutability – the slack, frictions and glitches – in the relationship between the idea of a body and its construction. The four artists presented in this exhibition – Malin Hallgren, Cassie Augusta Jørgensen, Maja Malou Lyse, and Erika Stöckel – open up a discourse, teasing out multiple dialogues around the instability of the body as a fixed notion. Their works give a voice to questions around identity, gender, the right to pleasure, body politics, abstraction, material, sensuality, performativity and process.

The constellation of artistic works creates an interplay of positions: the body as subject and object, vessel and commodity, resisting or succumbing to the values ascribed. One starting point is the questioning of attitudes to identity construction and historical approaches to the concept of femininity. Does the body have the agency to exhibit itself or is it unwillingly exposed? The voice – and the possibility of having a voice – resonates in the exhibition as a political desire to dismantle the status quo.

Two video-based works by Cassie Augusta Jørgensen and Maja Malou Lyse define the time frame, and sculptural works by Malin Hallgren – working with textile and metal – and Erika Stöckel – working with ceramics – become objects in a continuous exchange. The specificity of each artwork in the exhibition creates its own arena for thought and feelings, processes and positions, politics and poetics, where contrasts and paradoxes are understood as aspects within an expanded field of knowledge.

The first piece that visitors encounter in the exhibition is a video work by Maja Malou Lyse, a 10-minute long piece embracing the tone and ironic drawl from Sex and the City, drawing attention to the sometimes contradictory layers within its portrayal of multiple feminisms. Who has agency to self-determination, the right to desire and pleasure, through sexualization, commercialization, invisibility, hypervisibility, voyeuristic behaviors? Maja Malou Lyse’s work is an intelligent provocation into the role of bodies in a world based on the circulation and currency of their image.

A large raised podium – its high curved form and terracotta tone rejecting the status of plinth – raises up Stöckel’s ceramic works to meet the visitor on a human scale, while directing our movement through the exhibition. Ceramic sculptures that resemble the body – folds, creases and openings. The clay pieces constitute an ongoing research where each new sculpture becomes an individual that together forms a family. Objects become subjects and new members cause the family to grow. Stöckel’s practice constantly returns to the question of the external gaze – how do we see ourselves through the eyes of others? It’s an examination of power structures, exotification and colonialism and how this settles in the body and is carried on through generations. We map the gift we lost – Stöckel’s work for BODIES AND ANTIBODIES – plays with the roles of us and them and how those categories constantly shift between the sculpture and the viewer.

Malin Hallgren’s sculptures in metal and fabric occupy the wall opposite Stöckel’s ceramics – setting up a dialogue between materiality and structure. This positioning could also be read as complementary investigations into how a body is built, and clothed – through artistic means, with organic and fabricated materials that condition, shape and adopt the form of a body, while in a state of transformation over time.

Cassie Augusta Jørgensen’s film work The Danish Girl Dick traces a plurality of histories of bodies in transition. With a rhythmic and physical performativity rooted in choreography and dance, this film work sets up an imaginary space that hosts seemingly biographical narratives. Simultaneously emotional, spiritual and surreal, Jørgensen intertwines the personal and historical, combining private and that which transgresses one individual experience.

Personal experiences, languages still under construction, tests, confrontation and gestures of care co-exist in BODIES AND ANTIBODIES, occupying equal time and space without given hierarchies. This exhibition considers bodies as vessels and material that constructs; antibodies as systems to dismantle preconceptions, breaking down strict or closed definitions.

The works presented operate as nodes within a complex reality full of nuances and myriad histories: acknowledging that alternate narratives can be applied, other discourses are possible and that a will or demand for an objective “truth” nowadays is rendered an impossibility. Performativity and choreography define a context where bodies move and interact, where encounters can happen, and conversations can flourish.

Image: Maja Malou Lyse, “Antibodies”, film still, 2022

We would like to thank Art Hub Copenhagen for their support with this exhibition.