La Casa Encendida presents the exhibition Vulnerable Critters, curated by Andrea Bagnato and Ivan L. Munuera, which gathers architectural and artistic explorations of infection, illness, and health to help think the recent pandemic in a longer trajectory.
Vulnerable Critters is the outcome of long-term research by the curators that looks critically at modernity’s obsession with preventing contamination.
We all live in a state of vulnerability – even though some are more vulnerable than others – and reclaiming this condition can be a route toward new forms of coexistence. Traditional studies of infection tend to rely on the metaphor of a healthy body being attacked by an external agent. Yet, interactions of bodies, other bodies, microbes, architectures, cultural practices, technologies, and environments are intrinsically founded on continual contact, frictions, and encounters.
In the exhibition, existing works and new commissions enact, reclaim, or contest such zones of contact. In her coinage of the term, the linguist Mary Louise Pratt used the “contact zone” to counter the idea of community as a homogeneous, orderly entity, and think instead of social relations in terms of clashes and asymmetries of power. The artists on display all have long-standing practices that center queer and non-normative understandings of the body and of disease – which were all but ignored in the public debate on Covid-19.
In the exhibition, an extensive display of drawings and sculptures by the late Pepe Espaliú conjures forgotten histories of collective suffering. Pratchaya Phinthong and Işıl Eğrikavuk question the ways that epidemics and public health are narrated with respect to geographies of the "South."
Meanwhile, Himali Singh Soin and P. Staff suggest that contamination can be a counter-hegemonic act, while Monica Bonvicini challenges the architecture of gender with boldness and fragility. Three new commissions by visual artist Michael Wang and architects all(zone) and C+arquitectas (Nerea Calvillo with Manuel Alba Montes) re-enact the experience of contagion within flowering plants, domestic space, and the air itself.
During the summer, a series of film screenings, performances, and dialogues will be part of La Terraza Magnética to expand on the topics of the exhibition.
The exhibition is the second stage of the Vulnerable Beings project. In October and November 2021, a two-part public assembly at MAAT, Lisbon, brought together artists, academics, scientists, and activists to reflect collectively on vulnerability and cohabitation.
Artists: all(zone) @allzone.official, Monica Bonvicini @studiomonicabonvicini, C+arquitectas @cmasarquitectas (Nerea Calvillo with Manuel Alba Montes), Işıl Eğrikavuk @isilegri, Pepe Espaliú, Pratchaya Phinthong @pratchayaphinthong, Himali Singh Soin @himalisinghsoin, P. Staff @p___staff y Michael Wang @mbwang.
Curated by: Iván L. Munuera and Andrea Bagnato.
Visual identity: Omnigroup