Year 6, n.22 May – August 2016 Throwing the body in the fight

Year 6, n.22 (May – August 2016)
Throwing the body in the fight

curated Giulia Grechi

“Perciò io vorrei soltanto vivere
pur essendo poeta
perché la vita si esprime anche solo con se stessa.
Vorrei esprimermi con gli esempi.
Gettare il mio corpo nella lotta.
– in quanto poeta sarò poeta di cose.
Le azioni della vita saranno solo comunicate,
e saranno esse, la poesia,
poiché, ti ripeto, non c’è altra poesia che l’azione reale.”
(Pier Paolo Pasolini, Poeta delle Ceneri, 1966)

Foucault wondered what kind of body the Society needs, what kind of body it desires, what the Society knows about the body. The body is the space where the social truths are forged, it’s where cultural normativity is inscribed and where the contradictions of both of them are played. It is on the body where the violence of biopolitics and stereotypes are exercised. But the body is also a land of resistance, creativity and counter-narratives, it’s a place of trigger: “and as soon as I desire I am asking to be considered”1. The performativity of the body, the stratification of the senses that the body contains and produces, questions the “monocular” approaches that have attempted to map it. The body is “naturally subversive”2: it refuses to comply with sterile dualisms and unnecessary reductionism, first of all that between body and mind, which structured much of our culture and our disciplines, starting from the removal of the body and its significance. The body is mindful, is steeped in the mind, and as such is fundamentally unruly. So we can try to reverse the question posed by Foucault. Which kind of society does the body needs? Which kind of society does the body desires? What does my body know about society?On May 31st 1975, in the Galleria Comunale d’Arte Moderna in Bologna, Fabio Mauri projects on the body of Pier Paolo Pasolini, sitting in the dark, his movie Il Vangelo secondo Matteo. Pasolini’s body becomes the screen itself, his taut chest literally embodies its own language: Pasolini cannot re-watch his work, he only can know it or remember it through his body , as the Kafkaesque harrow (the Penal Colony machine), feeling the responsibility for this incorporation – an ethical and political responsibility. With regard to this performance, Fabio Mauri writes that the projection “physically reveals the birth of the intellectual sign, inside the author’s body, but also involves something else: “the imposition of a passion undergone by the author for which he seems to respond personally for what he has conceived”. Beeing an Intellectual (that’s the title of the performance), critical and in love with the world, perhaps implies just that “throwing the body in the fight”.  “O my body, make of me always a man who questions!” (Frantz Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks).

“The body is a uniform! The body is armed militia! The body is violent action! The body claims power! The body’s at war! The body declares itself subject! Communicates! Shouts! Protests! Subverts! (Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, 1994).

“Now I am cold. The body doesn’t love conferences on the body” (Fabio Mauri, Senza Corpo, 1997).


1 F. Fanon, Black Skins, White Masks.
2 Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Il sapere incorporato: pensare con il corpo attraverso un’antropologia medica critica, 2000