The Human Centipede (2)
At the Boijmans Van Beuningen’s The Future of Fashion is Now (Fashion, Activism, Community and Politics), Lucy + Jorge Orta showed their work Nexus Architecture x 25 – Nexus Type Opera.tion. In Nexus Architecture (2001) they zip together the clothes of a group of volunteers. The idea is to depict the loss of individuality in a cluster of social relationships. We are all connected; “Each individual keeps an eye on, and protects, the other. One individual’s life depends on the life of the other. The warmth of one gives warmth to the other. The physical link weaves a social link.” I refer Nexus Architecture to the horror film The Human Centipede by Tom Six. ‘’A mad scientist kidnaps and mutilates a group of people in order to reassemble them into a human centipede, created by stitching their mouths to each others’ rectums.’’ The victims basically have to wear each other to survive, of course an extreme version of “Each individual keeps an eye on, and protects, the other. One individual’s life depends on the life of the other. The warmth of one gives warmth to the other. The physical link weaves a social link’’.
Nexus (which means link or tie) Architecture is a symbolic work which I find to be a shame as there are examples of functioning clothes which actually do realize bond and equality, for example school uniforms. I wore a school uniform as a child and my experience was that wearing a uniform built team spirit and unified. Also prevented the pressure of having to have status symbols such as branded clothes and thereby made the economical differences less visible in school. However I did feel a lack of freedom to express myself. Other areas where uniforms are used is for example in the military, prison, finance and sports. The idea is that if you are wearing the same uniform you are friends and you help each other. But even if we wear the same fabric and colors we are not always friends and we do not always help each other. To tell how the world works Orta metaphorically connected the uniforms physically (what happens to me will happen to you) which automatically also becomes literal. The work is executed in a bold and direct way which I do admire. The doubts I have about the work not being applied to people in a direct (functioning) way may depend on the way it is presented…
At Boijmans Van Beuningen’s Nexus Architecture was presented as an installation. But during performances, Orta gives the participants commands, setting the whole group in motion, ‘’emphasizing the loss of humanity within the collective’’. Depending on the participants engagement in following the task it can either be or not be a working organism. I believe that Orta is not making a political statement but rather questioning the political ideology of today and the future. Maybe the importance of both communism and capitalism, the group and the individual.
In general I was fascinated by the room of Activism, Community and Politics in the The Future of Fashion is Now exhibition because I respect artists like Orta who try to break down and deal with these large and relevant questions. I have to make 10 designs on the subject Ebola for design class which is a subject far from my control, and to me it is a motivation to see how Orta can manage similar matters. Orta has an optimistic approach in both content and aesthetic. But I can not help but question if the work of Orta maybe is too playful? I feel slightly split about the fact that world issues are ”anesthetized” when artists take them on. As the beauty overshadows the message but at the same time maybe this is necessary when wanting to communicate to the western world. It is a paradox. In any case I think that it is couregous to deal with such serious matters. Later on one can argue if a work is successful or not, if the artist does harm or good. I may be cynical but it is hard for me to understand the motive of why Orta has cared for the complex of global problems such as the ecological environment/global warming, sexism, refuge and immigration policy, the hostility towards the Romani people, the biomedical ethics of organ donation and homelessness as these subjects differ so much from each other. But then again it is arguable that a team of two artists do not share the same mind and therefore bring different issues to the table. Anyway Orta has surely succeeded in raising some of the spectators awareness or opinion as I have just written a text about this.