NI EVAS NI ADANES - group show
Carmen García Bartolomé
Marco Fagundes Vasconcelos
11 November - 4 January 2011
NEITHER EVES NOR ADAMS
Because this rather weak identity, which we attempt to support and to unify under a mask, is in itself only a parody: it is plural.
Nietzsche, Genealogy, History (1971)
The western culture of Christian origin owes to the Genesis, with the creation of the archetypes Adam and Eve, the original legend on the establishment of two sexes and with these, gender representing two opposite ways of existing and dealing with our body, including its impulses. The patriarchal order, dominated by this idea, established the cult of dual categories of opposites so that every thought or behaviour would fit in one or another extreme: man/woman, masculine/feminine, me/other, subject/object, good/evil, and etcetera. Images and language, influenced by the control technology, have also contributed to the reproduction and spreading of these stereotypes. Surprisingly, you can still read in the Royal Spanish Academy dictionary that masculine is equivalent to virile and vigorous, while feminine is described as weak and delicate. Gender identity is ascribed in accordance to biological sex and it has been generally accepted as something homogeneous, unalterable and firm, driven by an exclusive binary logic that repeats itself over and over again. And the other is left in the margins of a canon based on a heterogeneous set of rules that does not only affect gender or sex, but race or ethnic group as well, and even the economic and social status of individuals.
Since the nineteen sixties, the feminist analysis, the gay and lesbian studies, and more recently the queer theories, have been trying to undo the causal relation between sex and gender stating that identity is a social-cultural and linguistic construct of a distinct ideological nature that is being mediated by the power relations and, far from being articulated as a rigid or definite model, it can be defined rather by its nomad, flexible and open nature.
Beyond the imperatives of social or symbolic nature, the subject is an unstable signifier, and there is no immutable truth hidden behind its gender identity. Judith Butler states that gender is a performance, in the sense that it represents a performative act or an action that is produced by the ritualized repetition of subjective categories that paradoxically has no original (something like a copy of a copy). Along the same lines, different feminist approaches -as well as the drag activism and the transgender practices later- have questioned the inherited generic hetero-designations in order to make room for other opinions, bringing into the picture alternative, minorities, separated or silenced identities that go beyond the patriarchal regulations and its dangerous biological and behavioral determinism.
Between the hyperbolic versions of the masculine man and the feminine woman, there are infinite and subtle variations and subjectivities that provide us with a frame of reference for this group show. For example, Ángeles Agrela’s contortionists are extremely flexible people, capable of doing the impossible with their bodies; while the young woman carrying a huge red sofa by Carmen Garcia Bartolomé is far stronger than one might have expected her to be. Marco Fagundes Vasconcelos offers an interesting linguistic turn to show us his aunt’s (who is actually a man) masquerade; and Pablo Burgos explores the unstable identity through the figure of a cruiser. Other works add a somewhat more acid vision to the duo sex/gender, as the married couples in their thirties and their fifties by Antonio Díaz Grande, which corrupt any attempt to mythicize gender roles; or the cut-outs by Violeta Caldrés, who along Foucault’s lines, ironize the way power relations also become explicit in sexuality. As for Paco Guillén, he unlinks the subject from any gender or sex assignment to concentrate in other types of identity issues. All of these reflections that are being put on paper – a medium as fragile, ductile and delicate as the very notion of identity – entail a creative process that shares with the gender representations that rather undefined and unclassifiable nature, and above all, a valuable capacity to be inhabited by the plural in its most free expression.