Terzo Fronte

INTERVALLO (I) Oniromanzia: Laurie Charles, 2021

When we started thinking about the exhibition Intervallo (I) Oniromanzia with Laurie Charles, one of the first points that came up in our conversations was the relationship we can have to the narrative of the disease and its words. How to appropriate, how to make visible our anarchic bodies, how to create a new and more personal language for them, far from the barbarity of scientific language.

Laurie Charles produces paintings and films, yet it is the relationship to narrative and research that one retains when seeing her pop paintings. Her pieces presented at Terzo Fronte, between painting and domestic sculptures, are the support of narrative works around the history of the body and the disease, considered from a feminist perspective. We come across historical quotations such as the two hands that cross, symbols of Italian feminists, popular references and of course her personal history, such as the spoon theory, a vernacular system set up in conversation forums by people with chronic illnesses to measure their fatigue.

At Terzo Fronte, Laurie Charles’ works play with the identity of our space, which is both a place to live and a place to exhibit. The space modulates itself, disguises itself according to the time of day and the visitors who pass through it. With her domestic sculptures Laurie Charles covers Terzo Fronte with a new body, a carnal and sometimes visceral body, her own. The body that covers Terzo Fronte is one that we don’t always want to talk about: the body that is said to be in poor health.

But is there such a thing as a perfectly healthy body? Is good health not an idealized projection of an impossible norm of the body, produced by an authoritarian language, that of medicine? Is illness not a form of the body’s life, one of its singularities with which we must learn to live, by inventing modes of existence that give it its place?

In Migraine Laurie Charles projects us into a double life-size representation of her body, the first exposing the medieval idea of the body as a map exposing a geographical territory and the healing techniques that can be applied to it. In the second, the body is emptied of its organs, the material witnesses of the traumas experienced. This brings to mind Artaud’s body without organs, as he wrote in Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu:

Man is sick because he is badly constructed.

We must decide to expose him to scratch this animalcule which itches mortally, God, and with God, his organs.

For bind me if you will, but there is nothing more useless than an organ.

When you have made him a body without organs, then you will have freed him from all his automatisms and given him his true freedom.

Then you will relearn to dance backwards as in the delirium of the bals musette and this backwards will be his true place.

But how to dance backwards in bodies too busy with the obscurity and formlessness of the organs that occupy them? Self-awareness, the sharing of vernacular knowledge and the subjectivisation of experience may be the answers. The exhibition Intervallo (I) Oniromanzia articulates the works of Laurie Charles with texts that support the artist’s practice and her reflection on the history of sick bodies. These texts, associated with Laurie Charles’ textile pieces, form a set of dreamed fictions, proposals of existence, which liberate the body from normative discourses, in order to give back all their grandeur to our singularities.

Laurie Charles (b. 1987, Belgium) lives and works in Brussels. Visual and textual storyteller, she writes and paints speculative narratives on large canvases. She makes films in which she interweaves folklore, humanities, stories and historical narratives within a feminist perspective. For the artist each project is an opportunity for in-depth research in which she brings together scattered elements in a fictional story and the outcome of this story is the resulting work. Drawing on historical events, on popular references, or on her own personal history, she brings to light « ghosts » called upon to become the protagonists of her work. Among other venues, her work has been exhibited at Wiels – Brussels, Efremidis Gallery in Berlin, Grazer Kunstverein – Graz, CIAP Kunstverein – Hasselt, 1646 – project space for contemporary art – The Hague, Nanjing International Art Festival – Nanjing, Beursschouwburg – Brussels, Komplot – Brussels, and Le Commissariat – Paris.

Terzo Fronte is a curatorial program founded by Georgia René-Worms, artist and curator, and Colin Ledoux, French writer and director. It borrows its functioning from literature and is constructed as an editorial project whose programming is written collectively by chapter. Each chapter explores a political aspect of our society’s life forms. Terzo Fronte sees itself as an active laboratory of exchange, connection and circulation between the French-Italian and international art scenes, exploring the ecosystems of narrative and the functioning of contemporary art.