By EMILY REYNOLDS
Published October 24, 2022
“I don’t know you like that: The Bodywork of Hospitality,” an exhibition that explores how the concept of hospitality has affected our understanding of the human body, will open in November at the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts and the UB Anderson Gallery.
Guest curated by independent curator and critic Sylvie Fortin, the exhibition will open with a reception from 5-7:30 p.m. Nov. 10 in the CFA gallery and a reception and artist talks from 1-4 p.m. Nov. 12 in the Anderson Gallery. The exhibition runs through May 12.
Bringing together new and recent works by 17 international artists, “I don’t know you like that: The Bodywork of Hospitality” invites us to consider how hospitality has simultaneously defined and confined what we think bodies are, what we imagine they can do, how we feel they relate, whom we believe they can encounter and, ultimately, how they engage with each other and in the world.
Hospitality is usually considered a philosophical concept with legal implications, an ethical concern, a social/political practice… or an industry. In this exhibition, Fortin shifts the focus to consider the stealth work of hospitality on our conceptual, material and political understanding of bodies. How has the covert reach of hospitality led to the very notion of a “human” body, fleshing out its outlines by setting it apart from other throbbing constellations of life forms? How has hospitality’s invisible labor sustained the extractive intersection of race, gender, class, religion and value? To what prison-house of flesh and mind has hospitality’s dance of welcoming and exclusion confined us? Can hospitality, in turn, yield other choreographies?
The exhibition explores these questions in space, weaving together open-ended experiential connections between works in a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, textile, installation and performance, as well as lens- and time-based practices. It addresses several themes, including xeno|transplantation, implantation and transfusion; neural adaptation and the phantom limb; bacteria and the microbiome; viruses, parasites, symbionts and holobionts; mechanical and chemical prostheses; imaging technologies; architectures of corporeal hospitality; dreams and dreamwork; and magic and the “miraculous” work of relics, spirits and energies.
“I don’t know you like that: The Bodywork of Hospitality” excavates the body’s storied genealogy, critically points to its living legacy, imagines other more-than-human hospitable modalities, and opens up an expanded theater of operations. In the process, it welcomes a host of interspecies intimacies and live-wired storylines.
Artists featured in the exhibition are Eglė Budvytytė, Jean-Charles de Quillacq, Heather Dewey-Hagborg, Celina Eceiza, Adham Faramawy, Mounir Fatmi, Oliver Husain and Kerstin Schroedinger, Luis Jacob, Lynne Marsh, Rodney McMillian, Lucas Michael, Bridget Moser, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Berenice Olmedo, Slinko and Ana Torfs.
“This exhibition offers so many opportunities for creative overlap between schools and departments within the university and in the greater community,” says Robert Scalise, director of the UB Art Galleries. “From visual art, media, design and dance to architecture, science and medicine, Fortin’s exploration of the meaning of hosting and hospitality can serve as a point of departure for inquiry and innovation here at UB.”
Fortin says she’s grateful to have the opportunity to develop a second iteration of the exhibition for the UB Art Galleries. The first iteration was presented at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha in 2021–22.
“It’s been such a pleasure to reconnect with Buffalo colleagues, meet UB scholars, researchers and students, and dream up collaborations across the university and with local arts organizations during my preparatory visits to Buffalo,” she says. “The community’s enthusiasm for the project and their collaborative spirit have impacted the show and endowed the related public programs with distinctive shape and dynamism.
“In the three years since I began curating this project, I’ve learned a great deal from the work and ideas of artists, researchers in many fields, and people around me,” she says. “I now look forward to learning from the exhibition itself during its six-month existence in Buffalo, through the experiences and feedback of visitors.”
The exhibition is accompanied by public programs, free and open to students and the public. The first, a performance by Bridget Moser, one of the featured artists, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 as part of the Center for the Arts’ “Art in the Open” event.
Borrowing from prop comedy, experimental theater, contemporary dance and performance art, Moser’s “When I am through with you there won’t be anything left” unfolds as a sequence of brief scenes that shift abruptly and unexpectedly between self-deprecation, humor and deeper emotions — with a healthy dose of awkward and cringeworthy moments.
References and materials from consumer culture, trending online content, popular music and film play supporting roles in her exploration of isolation as the consequence of linking the body with individuality, the tenuousness of self-identity and the intensity of being alive
A full list of public programs is available on the exhibition website.