Ayana V. Jackson, Don McCullin, Kiki Smith, Tom Wesselmann, Claude Cortinovis, Carine Bovey
Corps ou âme
December 11, 2019 - February 22, 2020

Press release in French
Press release in English
Installation views

Article: Quand les corps disent les maux de l’âme, Tribune de Genève, by Irène Languin, 04.02.2020

More info about Ayana V. Jackson

Gowen Contemporary is pleased to present the group exhibition entitled Corps ou âme. The show features a selection of works whose subject is the human body used as a language to tell a story or represent a culture, providing the body with point of reference in order to invest it with historicity or functionality.

The current exhibition presents multiple forms of representation of the human body, over a period of time ranging from the sixties to the present day, through the identity dimension, illustrations of bodies in motion, portraits by photo-reporters or, sometimes, all this simultaneously.

American photographer Ayana V. Jackson, born in 1977, a descendant of one of the earliest African families to settle in the New Jersey, is interested in the representation of black portraiture in the 19th and early 20th centuries. She questions the role of the history of photography and fine arts in the construction of racial and gender stereotypes.

From a sociological perspective, using archival material to assess the impact of the colonial gaze on the history of photography and its relationship to ideas about the body, the artist composes with historical allusions or richly laced re-appropriations to create portraits that depict various constructions of African and African-American identities. Ayana V. Jackson stages her own body to interpret this complex array of identities.

Ethical considerations involving the relationship between the photographer, the subject and the viewer are also central in the work of Don McCullin, a British photojournalist born in 1935, who cogently and movingly bears witness of war with the image of an American soldier during the Vietnam War: a motionless body, petrified by horror and turmoil, his eyes blank; a powerful symbol of the loss of humanness in a specific context exposed to violence and revolt.

Movement can be found in the photographic work of the Swiss artist born in 1967, Claude Cortinovis. The artist, through his Muybridgian representations of wrestlers or marathon runners, stages his own body, by playing with mirror effects and repetitions determined by movements embodying the idea of speed and the awareness of the passing of time. Beyond the physical dimension of the gesture, the artist leads us towards artistic and existentialist considerations through the look on oneself.

Other artists such as Tom Wesselman and young artist Carine Bovey will lead the viewer into an exploration and reflection around the body’s representation through amazing artistic, philosophical and socio-cultural approaches.

This exhibition includes works on loan from private collections.