Where does your interest in the relationship between body and esoterism come from? And how does it connect with the political and identity issues explored through the exhibition?
VINCENT HONORÉ My interest comes from three sources: first, collaborating and discussing with artists like Paul Maheke, Ana Hulascova, or Pierre Huyghe, all of them I invited for the Baltic Triennial I curated in 2017/2018, or other artists like Jean-Marie Appriou, Jamila Johnson-Small, Nils Alix-Tabeling, Apolonia Sokol. All of them either had already a core interest in the occult or gradually included it in their research and practice. I then realized from further research and discussions that many other artists were embracing the topic, turning it into a contemporary problematic, politicized, and engaged. Lately, I came to conceive the show after curating two exhibitions, DRAG: Body-politics and self-portraits and Kiss My Genders at the Hayward Gallery in London, possibly like an (unconscious) trilogy of exhibitions centered on the body and the being as a political vessel. The occult means the hidden. No surprise then that hidden, excluded bodies use it as a political tool. The occult also is nothing without being performed. As such, the exhibition is articulated around three main interrelated concepts: deviance, performance, resistance and includes queer, decolonial, and feminist positions.
Witches, spirits, voodoo priests, and alchemists evoke the shady imagery of a marginal alternative world. Which meanings do they assume today, in relation to contemporary discourses on feminism, decolonization, and queer identities?
VH They embody a vibrant paradox: at once powerful and weak, at once visible and in the night. They are the ones who can break a capitalist notion of productivity and temporal progression: they are contemporary and ancient at the same time. They are the alternative: beyond the political notions of being, they are resistance against modern medicine, economy, classifications, science, and normativity.
The body as a means of resistance has been a constant presence through different artistic practices. Which are for you the most relevant contributions of new generation artists to this stream of research?
VH The body as resistance is nothing new indeed. The most relevant contribution is a reappropriation of forms and symbolic figures that had been excluded or exoticized by the dominant structure, either to exclude them, create caricatures of them, or annihilate them. It is a reappropriation of a whole cultural history and a resistance to the so-called norm.