EDITORIAL PLANETA, 2015, 224 PAGES.
The body is the battlefield where all wars were fought. Wars of bodies against other bodies, for reasons of race, sex, culture, market, and those of the body against itself, for the same reasons. We could make an account of political history of mankind if a history of the body was made following the trail of the first scribbles in the Altamira caves, until the transgenics found in our ever-surprising present time. In fact, Foucault among many others did that, showing us that the body is a political map upon which power relations operate, directly or indirectly, but always willing to submit it to discipline, to the norm, repressing it. The means aimed to suppress the body throughout history are just too many to mention, but enough is to focus on the strategies that, for example, religions -all of them without exception- have been using to domesticate men through pen, word and iron, to be able to understand that the body is a territory to invade, conquer and colonize with the mission of imposing cultural notions (taste, aesthetics, market, etc.) and thus transform it into something external from its own subjectivity. Somehow, it is intended that our body would not belong to us, we are invaded by body snatchers just like in a science fiction or horror movie. In the name of morality or beauty or health or economy, the outline of domination policies is drawn. We finally end up hating our own bodies and seek to modify it through external interventions such as absurd aesthetic surgeries, cruel diets, or delusional outfits that, as contemporary corsets, what they actually shape is our brain, our freedom and our desire. But it must also be said that throughout 20th and 21st Centuries, pockets of resistance to this policy of adjusting the body to the norm, developed from many social fields. And, from different strategies, art has been part of this liberating gesture. As artists, Nora Lezano and I have looked at the body through our own media (photography and performing arts respectively) in the same tune and from a critical perspective over its domestication (even within the field of art). And as a result of this affinity, the book Communitas was born as a project, as a chance of a real encounter where to cross our disciplines in favor of an aesthetic discourse on the body singled out as space of resistance. The precedent of this work dates back to the middle of last year, when I made a performance in Buenos Aires entitled "58 indices on the body" in which, through the eponymous text by Jean Luc-Nancy, I invited 58 performers to enter a stage for three hours, undress and say this aphoristic philosophical text while marking their bodies with a dash of scar-like fresh clay, accompanied by a Jordi Savall madrigal. They performed a series of cyclical choreographies that metaphorically narrated poetic road maps of their bodies through their personal history. Nora was invited to make a photographic record of that work process and presentations. Thus, through conversations during rehearsals about the powerful combination of those naked bodies and the poetic texts, a drift was initiated, and we finally turned that experience into Communitas, a book that engages 100 nude portraits made by Nora of more than one hundred models -since in some shots there are several bodies, coupled by parental and/or love relationships- into dialogue with 100 texts written by me, poetically and critically analyzing the body as a distinct, unique and unrepeatable event. The work process was dialectical. First, a text preliminary text worked as a skeleton while the photographs and the structure of the writing gained shape in our heads. To move this experience away from the performance, already at an early stage, we decided to double the bet and take the number of pictures and texts to one hundred, understanding that this amount could symbolically represent a community. Ten were too few, the same with twelve, and fifty was less than Nancy’s number... The next option was to jump to one hundred. And from that numerical decision we launched a practical and affectionate collective device composed of a team of friends and colleagues who have been essential to the successful completion of this project. With no financial but with human resources (formed by a group of comrades who lent their bodies, their time and materials), we started to achieve what we proposed. Initially, an invitation was made to the performers of ‘58 indices on the body’, which covered nearly fifty percent of the goal, and then completed the number making a partially open call in which we specifically seeked bodies within a broad physiognomic and biologic range in terms of age, race and gender. Thus we reached 113 models who are those appearing in the 100 portraits published in the book. The photo shoots meant two consecutive twelve straight hours sessions in a study generously lent for the occasion, also with a generously borrowed camera -Nora wanted to achieve some photographic features: a certain crudeness, certain truth in the body marks, life strokes printed on them. In periods ranging between five and fifteen minutes, youngsters, old people, children, couples, skinny, dark-skinned, fair haired, tall, etc., they all took off their robes, marked their "scar" with mud, and allowed to be caressed by the mechanical eye of the photographer. These sessions meant a feast to the senses, a joy enabled by the shared bodies and shared project. Towards the session’s evening I had already drafted the hundred texts that stand beside the hundred photos, but the aftermath of these sessions’ forced me to modify much of the literary material as the work process became a counterpoint between images and words. The text rewrote the pictures and the pictures rewrote the texts. This dialectic went on even during the selection of the pictures (there were many very beautiful, and we sweat blood and tears for what had to be left out). I believe this to be one of the virtues of this book: the mutual bond between text and image, in a way that each poetic discourse and its specificity says what the other can not, complementing its lack power with another language. And at the same time this is the book’s secret, expressed in its title Communitas: the idea of community, -in this case, a network of more than a hundred bodies- after an anthropological term coined by Victor Turner, but more specifically as Italian philosopher Roberto Esposito expands it, adjusting the concept from its ethical viewpoint: the community is not set by equality (a race, a language, a flag do not necessarily build a community), but by difference. Community is all there is to be, says Esposito -using the concept of subtraction, of debt- when difference rules, when we recognize our own lack in the uniqueness of the other, when we become aware that that otherness makes us equal and makes us alike because we are unique, different, singular, unrepeatable (and I add, beautiful, atheists and materialists). We build a community of the different, engaged by the common value of difference. This is the wood in which democracy is carved. Otherwise, what we find is mass, false equality, disciplinary rules of forced similarity, dangerous principles of fascism. And to top it off, as a result of that community of elective and emotional affinities and differences, the utter gift, a foreword written by Gabo Ferro that complements, puts into perspective, comments and expands the possibilities of this work through an exquisite text coming from an artist and friend, totally embracing the spirit of this book: to understand that we will only be free when we recognize ourselves alike in the mirror of otherness, of difference.