Exhibition / Performance / Talks / Panel Discussion / Filmscreening


a Project by Rajkamal Kahlon

of the California College of the Arts, San Francisco:
Zina Al-Shukri l Maggie Haas l Patrick Hillman l Brigid Mason l Maja Ruznic l Alice Warnecke and Rajkamal Kahlon


Fotos left to right: Patrick Hillman (Photography) l Maja Ruznic l Rajkamal Kahlon



8th January 2010 Opening l 7 pm
part of the opening is a performance

9th January 2010
  l 5 pm artist talk
with Maja Ruznic and Zina Al-Shukri

28th January 2010 l 4 am –žPersuasion walk–œ
and border-crossing journey to gather artifacts in the city and return them to the project space which it will be culminated with a screening of View-Master film "Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis" at the same afternoon, 6 pm

30th January 2010  l 5 pm
Artist talk
on the grotesque and phenomenology
Alice Warnecke will discuss her interest in the Grotesque which is in it's intersection with phenomenology: the philosophy of bodily perception

30th January 2010 l 6 pm
Panel discussion on the grotesque and its relationship to aesthetic theory
with Winfried Menninghaus (Professor at Institut für Allgemeine und Vergleichende Literaturwissenschaft, Freie Universität Berlin)
Nanako Nakajima (Dance Dramaturg, Freie Universität Berlin) and
Lisa Glauer (artist, artistic assistant at Faculty Public Arts, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar)

30th January 2010 l 7 pm Closing

The exhibition An American Orifice will offer a new reading on ideas of social exchange rooted in Mikhail Bakhtin's theories of the grotesque. Mikhail Bakhtin, 20th C, Russian philosopher, literary critic and scholar, introduced the grotesque body as a –œfigure of unruly biological and social exchange.–
arttransponder, an experimental exhibition space which engenders new participatory and socially engaged models of art production and reception, provides the context for the reflection. An American Orifice conflates the national body with the individual body and presents it as the metaphoric site of all forms of social, political and economic exchange. Consumption and production can then be located at the threshold where the inner meets the outer, where concealment meets the revealed, where the self meets the other. It is where the body meets the world, and the border is porous, the urges irrepressible. The grotesque acknowledges, even celebrates, the state of the body in flux; eating, drinking, excreting, fucking, being born and dying. The grotesque turns the finished classical ideal of the body upside-down, ass in the air. Bakhtin writes, –œNext to the bowels and the genital organs is the mouth, through which enters the world to be swallowed up."

The eight participants in An American Orifice came together at a graduate seminar at the California College of Arts in San Francisco in 2008. The course, Points of Penetration: The Grotesque Body and Humor in Art was founded in Rajkamal Kahlon's studio and research practice. It was a collaborative and two way learning process, structured around the idea of shared power within the classroom. The participants began a conversation that has continued even as the initial class dissolved.

According to the participants, –œThe grotesque allows us to collaborate loosely through a theory of dispersal and overflowing, of recognizing fugitive concepts and identities that shift before they can be contained. As a parameter for collaboration, it is flexible, allowing for changes in ideas, form and attitude. We find common ground even as it shifts be-neath our feet. We examine on a corporeal scale the dynamics that are at the basis of world affairs: sexual and interpersonal relationships, possessions, shame and exhibitionism, play and hierarchy, the body in space. We position ourselves to look at how the outside world penetrates into us and how our insides seep back into the world."

text: Rajkamal Kahlon & Maggie Haas

1. Mikhail Bakhtin, –œThe Grotesque Image of the Body– Rabelais and His World, Translated by Helene Iswolsky, Indiana University Press, ©1984
2. Ibid

Blog to the exhibition

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