Proxi Bodies 2.0 : : 2022

Cyborgs . Dolls. Galvanized. Matrix Spill. : : February 7-28 2020 : : Chicago Art Department, Chicago

Proxi bodies 2.0 at Chicago Art Department. It is both my creative exploration and curatorial project.

Proxy Bodies

is an ongoing collaborative exhibition initiated by UK-based artist and performer Elly Clarke in 2021. Through photography, performance, embroidery, drawing, painting, video and QR codes, Proxy Bodies explores ideas and lived realities of having and keeping a body going in an uber-connected, politically & ecologically unstable world. Since the first iteration of this exhibition in Felixstowe, UK last September, the notion – and reality – of proxy bodies has shifted yet again, due to the Ukraine war and ongoing ecological & humanitarian crises in Europe and beyond…

Proxy Bodies 2.0

is curated by Galina Shevchenko, with hands on installation help from Clareese Hill. We are grateful to all who have helped Proxy Bodies (2) arrive at this place – including Elly Clarke’s PhD funders CHASE Doctoral Training Programme, for supporting the origins of this show.
In Clareese Hill’s photo series Conjuring from the Rhizome, ancestral and critical diasporic knowledges are activated through a ceremony to create spaces of rest, in what Hill calls a ‘post identity portal’. In these ceremonies, the artist conjures up The GUIDE, who is a triadic collaboration of Black knowledges, autoethnographic mining and ambivalence of participation within the academic conventions of research.

Traces of a Performance by Elly Clarke is a screenshot (with accompanying video extract) from a rediscovered recording of a rehearsal for a VJ performance Clarke did as her drag alter ego #Sergina in a former Nunnery in France in 2019. Printed on Habotai silk, the digital screenshot becomes a banner and/or a portable virtual (/real) background for Zoom calls. Meanwhile Airdrop (I want your data) is a seductive call for data for a wellbeing questionnaire, accessed via a QR code.

Galina Shevchenko’s Proxy Bodies/ Madonnas series, created for the 2nd iteration of Proxy Bodies, are an outcry of despair and hope, a visceral visual response to the dehumanising impact of war. Emerging as iPad drawings, the images evolve to become digital embroideries through custom-developed algorithms, channelling the processes of artificial cross-breeding. This work is inspired by Donna Haraway’s Cyborg manifesto, Ukrainian traditional embroidery patterns and Shevchenko’s ongoing research into Renaissance Grotesques.

Bryony Graham had to develop a new relationship to her body and society after becoming disabled through illness with a chronic pain condition. Album (1991/1999) spans the before and after the onset of this – from an album of photos in 1991 to an album with the photos taken out in 1999, leaving only the photo corners. Rub, is an ongoing series of rubbings of pain med blister packs, which for a while were the only thing Graham could do. In her work as an artist and founder of Felixstowe-based project space Hamilton MAS (where the first iteration of Proxy Bodies took place), Graham is interested in finding ways to make invisible support structures both visible and useful, with particular regard for people living with long term health conditions.

Performed in different places around the world over the past five years, Dominique Savitri Bonarjee’s Collapse is a ritual of resistance and surrender, a practice for listening to gravity, time, the weather, the climate, and the movements of an expanded field of aliveness. As part of Proxy Bodies In Felixstowe, Collapse #9 took place on the beach, surprising a Saturday afternoon crowd of families and beer drinkers with a 30 minute slow collapse of the artist,, from standing to lying down on the sand.

Brought in for this second episode of Proxy Bodies, Chicago based, Ukranian born artist Elena Pach’s paintings muse with subjective tension, employing multitude of fractured fragments of sight, sound, scent, and memories; appearing as deconstructed amalgamation of barely recognizable fairy tale, evoking a sense of timelessness.

And finally, the work of New York & Chicago based artist Maria Dimanshtein dives into intimate existential ponderings that will ring true to most. In her text-based drawings, Dimanshtein brings up for discussion the unwelcome and rejected aspects of the human experience: anxiety, loneliness, heartbreak, disconnectedness. Taken out of the confines of a traditional book and placed onto the gallery wall, poems explode with primeval immediacy.

Proxy Bodies 2.0 have also become a fundraising site, joining efforts with the Ukraine TrustChain organisation that helps fund aid and evacuations for Ukrainians in the active war zone. Our small teams go where big international orgs can’t, to provide urgent food, medical supplies, and rides to safety. Artworks featured in the show will become available for sale as wearable art items through the Ukraine TrustChain fundraising ArtMerch initiative. Ukraine TrustChain Art Merch Collection.