SUPERNATURE: An Exercise in Loads
The exhibition SUPERNATURE: An Exercise in Loads is based on the encounter with the first gym in Athens to specialize in competitive bodybuilding. Owned by the highly esteemed pioneer of Greek bodybuilding S. Bournazos, the gym constitutes a unique hybrid of formal qualities. Its function of zestfully hosting the hyper-activity of competitive bodybuilding future is matched by an “archival” quality which throws light on traces of this very activity in the 80s and the 90s.
The exhibition investigates an association between art and the nature of competitive bodybuilding. Competitive bodybuilding is an amalgam of privacy and display, a mix of openness for the public and psychedelically esoteric inaccessibility. The few minutes in which a bodybuilder contestant is onstage are ticking not for the presentation of power or skill, but for the presentation of a new self, of his re-structured self, which was re-built anew by himself.
The exhibition SUPERNATURE: An Exercise in Loads explores the connection between aesthetics and the physical anxiety of “transformation” through the notions of desire for new formation, of duality concealed as union, of mediated physicality, and of displayed privacy. The exploration of these notions will expand within a territory where the “natural” and the “constructed” lose their absolute definitions, creating thus interwoven chains of acts. Within this territory, the origin of appearances –as well as what is a norm and what is an exception– constitutes a challenge to perception. This very multiplicity of physicality comes forth as a still stage of transformation, creating a feel of mute alertness. For this show, the key to the explorations on “transformation” will be the notion of exercise. Exercise is here perceived in its duality: strict, steady and programmatic or frantic and untamable, an inner witch-hunt. Here, exercise carries the energy of a private act even when entering the sphere of the public, always remaining an anatomy of a fleeing present and capturing all distractions and pauses that have completed it.
Generated by the encounter with the gym, the exhibition has a site-specific nature. This site-specific aspect comes forth as a virtual shift of roles between the gallery space and this space of physical exercise and alteration. Artworks included in the show were filmed in the gym, within its mirrored walls, between equipment, trophies, copies of ancient statues and images of bodybuilding superstars, amongst the exercising athletes. The films “co-exist” with the actual artworks in the gallery space. This duality offers an “alter-ego” of the exhibition within the exhibition and the association of the gallery space with its double, the space of exercise.
The association of the world of art with the world of bodybuilding will climax with an onstage appearance of bodybuilders during the opening night of the exhibition.