It is easy to imagine the human body as fully dressed civilian engaged in the daily rituals of a certain ‘self-care’. After all, it’s a common representation in contemporary culture.
Donna Huanca‘s recent exhibition Water Scars (exhibition photos, top right), running at Paris’ Galerie Chez Valentin from April 18 to May 16, deconstructs this figuration, detaching the human body from what Clara Guislain’s exhibition text calls the “overdeveloped, fetishistic tactility of cultural processes”, of clothing and skin.
In ‘Nudity’ (2015), the artist emphasises the strangeness of these objects with the use of pale colours, but in a nature-friendly way, that is, by downgrading these civilian clothes into ancient forms made from animal furs or leather. Most objects in the exhibition, including the physical form of models Giulia Munari and others, are dim and faint in colour, located middle-gray. If these models or objects were to hide in a natural landscape, they might be difficult to discern but when displayed in the gallery space, with its white walls and smooth cement floor, they’re highlighted and foregrounded. The only way that bodies and objects can survive in the white cube then, is to adapt with similar colours in the hope that they too can be camouflaged here.
Huanca paints her model’s bodies in smoothe pools of blended colour mixes, thereby reducing their humanness and masking them in a lack of definition. In ‘Finger Paintings (YSL, faux CILS)’ (2015), with black coloured traces of fingertips on the brownish canvas , these fingers are used as mere mediators that make aimless traces on canvases. It can be seen as a mimicry of animal’s footprints on earth. However, they’re hard to trace because of their aimlessness. **
Exhibition photos, top right.