“Collector's Guide to the Corporeal Archive,” Body Archives Students Exhibit at OnArt Gallery | SACI College of Art & Design Florence


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“Collector's Guide to the Corporeal Archive,” Body Archives Students Exhibit at OnArt Gallery

Eliana Harrison, I Need Help

SACI Body Archives students present a selection of artworks in “Collector's Guide to the Corporeal Archive,” an exhibition at OnArt Gallery in Florence.

Students in the Body Archives course at SACI, led by Dejan Atanackovic, presented selected works from the semester on December 5th. This year, the show was hosted by OnArt Gallery.

The show included works by Ailsa Burke, Maria Centrella, Joseph Cimino, Eric Frey, Ashna Hansoti, Eliana Harrison, David Neal, Marie-France Robichaud, Christina Shin, and was curated by Dejan Atanackovic.

Learn more about Body Archives and other courses offered at SACI.

Participating Artists:

Ailsa Burke: a particular amalgamation
My art work is a process through which I learn more about myself and my own life, particularly here in Italy. Through curating this archive, I have the chance to examine items of importance, of non-importance, and how everything combines to create my persona, my life, my experience.

This particular amalgamation of items has been collected and curated over the past few months. Each of these items has been added to my cache of material possessions since I arrived in Florence in early September. If examined carefully, they tell the winding tale of my time abroad.

Maria Centrella: Say Something To Me
Words have always stuck with me. When people speak to me I see their sentences spelled out in the air in front of me, and I retain written words on a page with an almost photographic memory. This is maybe because I am half deaf, so my brain tries its best to create subtitles for me as I navigate the world. It could also be because as a child my mother read to me every night, so written words became a constant for me, and a marker of safety and care. Regardless, my language of love has always been just that—language. Given the routine verbal abuse I confronted as a child, the resonance of words has taken on a deeper pitch within my being. When people extend kind words—things I regard from my childhood as rarities, as treats—I fall almost immediately in love with them, and usually offer up anything about myself that they should want. When I’m given harsh words, I give up whatever I can—secrets, vulnerabilities, knowledge—in the hopes I can trade it for safety. What some may see as passing comments last forever within me, and people’s reflections of me in turn impact my being. On coins below are phrases people have said to me throughout my life that I still hold. Deposit a phrase into the machine and you’re given a secret of mine, either compelled by the love or fear that phrase has given me. The phrases and the secrets alike vary between serious and light-hearted, between cruel and kind; so does life.

Joe Cimino: Prosthesis and the Art of Self Expression
Prosthesis and the Art of Self Expression is a project dealing with the creation of fragile and dysfunctional prosthetics with the purpose of replacing what is no longer there. These objects are created from recycled and poor materials that one has easy access to. However, they will constantly be in a state of repair. Enforcing the idea of the act of reconstruction and its connection to recovery. This project questions the idea of societies gaze and the necessity we have for balance in people's appearance. Is the object for the person? or is it for those who have to look at them? Is it right to have someone fix themselves in order to fit in? In response, an uncanny replacement is created which emphasises the new fusion of cardboard to flesh. Creating an expressive addition to extend one's body.

Eric Frey: Anthropological Survey of Generation Z
A Brief Anthropological study of the children born into the information age, focusing on 8 students studying abroad from between one Semester and two Years. Given the generational gaps between those born before the information age where technology seemed stable and advances developed at a steady rate, and the new generation who sees innovation and change happening on a daily basis. The current generation has been raised in an era of extreme social and cultural shifts, and this study aims to find commonality with older generations and discover where the disparities lie with the current generation.

Eric Frey: I am the Sum of My Memories
As a military veteran with twenty-four years of service, father, husband, and artist, this work focuses on the sum of my existence, my memories. Some fade with time, others are obscured by current events, some are joyful and significant, while others are so dark and bound to my mind that they are part of my everyday thoughts, no matter how hard I try to avoid them or hide them away. Every day more memories fill the primary vessel, waiting to be recalled, as long as I still have my memories, I am still me, so matter how much I change due to events and the passage of time.

Ashna Hansoti: Do You See Me?
Having lived in Mumbai for the majority of my life, I had never experienced the ignorance and racism that many of my fellow Indians who live abroad face on a daily basis. These past four months have been my first time living abroad and I was honestly surprised by how many comments I received because of my race, sometimes even from people whom I would assume to be better informed than the typical middle-aged Italian man might be. When a fellow art student asked me one night “What are you?,” I truly didn’t know how to respond. Of course, she recalculated and asked “Well, I mean, what’s your, like, ethnicity?” but the damage had been done. The more people I interact with the more I notice how insidious racism can be, to the point where it isn’t even coming from a bad place, it’s just a simple lack of knowledge. “Do you speak Hindu?”, “Can I take a picture of the exotic beauties?” (said to me and my friend who is Egyptian), “I put henna on last night with some friends for fun! We even drew a dick on someone’s hand!". It is exhausting and all-consuming and I know on every level that this is just the beginning of probably the rest of my life, but I refuse to take it sitting down. This series of photos is a response to my experiences with ignorance and racism. With some photos I try to shock the viewer, with some I try to shatter the pre-conceived notions that most hold of the typical Indian woman, and in some I simply am. I exist, with or without your view of me. How you see me does not change what I am or who I am. I refuse to conform.

Eliana Harrison: I Need Help
Most archives today are digitally based, and if you need to find a doctor or someone to speak to, you can simply Google the top rated professional closest to your area. The idea of having to physically research a psychologist in a book would be completely unheard of to people in my generation. The amount of people who are trained to provide care around the country of Italy is almost innumerable, and transforming this book archive into an endless scroll creates this countless effect. The form that the scroll takes as it drapes over the couch could be compared to a psychological patient, coming to speak about their lives and ask for advice.

David Neal: Otherness Reflection
Otherness is a different group categorized based on their race, gender, and mental illness from a colonialist group. Colonialists have been using conquest, assimilation, and pseudoscience methods to archive their research of the other from roughly the fifteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. Society’s interaction was altered from the results; the other became an example to whom one must avoid contact, how to civilly behave in one’s community, and what distinctive physical traits to be aware of and hygiene one must maintain. In my work, the people are specimens for research. For most of the drawings, I chose to make abstract human silhouettes forced to board a ship of fools and face casting. Within the images, there are certain individuals that have contributed in the otherness archives and societal surveillance theories.

Anthro-Pie Method
Duchenne de Boulogne Electro Therapy All aboard the Ship of Fools

Marie-France Robichaud: Accumulation (aggregation, collection) of fragmented memories
The guiding thread of my research is the relationship we have with time. My intention is to express in a visually narrative form ideas taking their origin in stories or experiences from the past in order to explain the present moment.
This installation shows the process I am undergoing to document my paternal grandmother’s condition who is afflicted by a form of dementia through which her memory is fading. I am exploring landscape erosion as a metaphor to the disintegration of the ability to recall one’s past. Both processes, it seems, can be slow and gradual or quick and abrupt. The link between erosion and memory loss will be made with photographs of eroding landscapes taken recently and the use of a picture album, part of an archive from my grandmother’s collection, consisting of old black and white photographs from her youth and younger years. I might add later on colour pictures from her mid-life period that my father has in his archives. The scattered geographic maps amalgamated with images and written anecdotes on the wall should demonstrate the possibility of a continuation of the process or an extension of the present moment in my creative endeavour, the latter being in constant change not unlike an ongoing scientific investigation. Images on the table display the stage I am at with the research process. I dispersed clippings or fragments of places where there is erosion among old images from my grandmother’s past.

Christina Shin: A Visit to the Museum of Anthropology
“Someone Else’s Ship” is an examination of how objects are presented in museums of anthropology, specifically how these objects are displayed, cleaned and protected behind glass cases, in contrast to how most of these objects were forcibly taken from their original makers and are here today as remnants of colonialism. In this piece, a video and performance are presented in which an image of a boat replica from Florence’s Museum of Anthropology is folded into a paper boat. The act of folding the object breaks the protective distance between the viewer and the boat replica today. The hands that are folding the paper ship alternate from creating the boat to hurting the boat to putting the boat back together. At times, it is also ambiguous as to whether these hands are helping or harming the boat. Some ambiguities are more humorous, such as the flicking of the boat and even the act of folding a boat replica into a paper boat, but all play on the ironical humor of how these objects are innocuously presented in museums as if they had never been touched. The video is accompanied by audio that tells a story of a visit to the museum of anthropology, inspired by an actual visit to Florence’s Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. The narration begins in the second person, making the viewer a complicit participant in the narrative and ultimately ends with asking the spectator to decide whether to continue on to look at the museum.

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