Leib & Korper

Laboradoriya «Intimnoe Mesto», St. Petersburg

The exhibition Leib&Körper is a part of a project "Body and sight", which was started in 2005.

Leib and Körper are german words with almost synonyms meaning: Leib means "a living body" (the life) and Körper - a body as an object, a physical object (a corpus).

In series of paintings Leib&Körper Alena Tereshko combines the sight of an artist, the model and the viewer and puts the viewer, almost physically into the world of sublime things - pieces of art. It happens thanks to denudation and continuation of the theme of woman´s body in the history of west-european painting. This theme quite exactly and essentially coincides with the process comprehension of subject-object relations in continental philosophy.

Unlike her predecessors La maja desnudaof Francisco Goya, which waspainted at the very beginning of XIX century, does not signify anything except herself, she looks directly at the one whose glance gives her the form - at the viewer, the artist, the owner.

One can say that our contemporaneity is the world described by object oriented ontologies, which is more suitable for objects to paint themselves.

The exhibition offers a game meant to soften the anxiety of the ethical nerve of contemporaneity.

Curator: Marina Maraeva
Letters: Viktoriya Zybkina, Antti Kukkonen
"Leib and Körper are commonly used concepts in German philosophy. Körper one might translate as the body that you HAVE, whereas Leib refers to the body that you ARE, that is your body UNobjectified. Leib one might also understand as MATERIALIZED SUBJECTIVITY, whereas in the traditional idea of subjectivity everything material so to say is transformed into the object world solely in virtue of its materiality. For classical philosophy, being material was a property available only for an object, not for a subject. Traditional subject is therefore by essence something idealized.

From the classical point of view in philosophy Leib contains elements both from the object and subject side of the world, but precisely because of this these concepts in my view function better when analyzing your art than subject and object, the concepts used by Signore Geusa.

So, let's see how these concepts function is Tolko Moi. In the video it is your Leib that the baby is made of, even though the viewer kind of sees that the represented baby is only your Körper, or part of it. The woman transforms her Leib into the baby, but she never could transform her Körper into the baby, once Leib, as part of subjectivity represents the living, that is spontaneous nature. (And, in fact, Spinoza's concepts natura naturans [the creatIVE nature] and natura naturata [the creatED nature] are not too far from Leib and Körper, respectively. Leib is YOUR creative nature, whereas natura naturans, in general, one might call God's Leib, if you like.) In Körper, the state of being alive can only be observed, it is a conclusion (a conclusion being, for example: this thing a is alive) you make based on your observations.

In a sense, in the world of cold "positive" facts the fictional baby is really only part of the woman's Körper (and nothing else!). For the woman it is her Leib transformed into the child. In this sense Leib also represents illusion here, whereas Körper disillusion or even objective reality.

But, note that here also the following question becomes relevant: If the viewer kind of takes the Körper-perspective and says to himself: this woman is (at least a bit) crazy, one might ask back: what makes you see the "baby" from the Körper-perspective (as Körper) and not from the Leib-perspective (as Leib). Now one might answer: while there really is no child in her arms. And surely there is none, if you see the woman's body as Körper. However, this is how you, the viewer, at the end of the day CHOOSE to see it. Surely one can choose this way, but nevertheless it is only one option.

(Foreign Leib, like that of the woman in the video, one recognizes based on intuition. You kind of intuit as if the body was yours. An important topic but I will not dwell on it here. For example, the point in Schopenhauer's "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung" was based on the idea of this kind of intuition. For Schopenhauer Wille was metaphysically related to Leib, and Vorstellung metaphysically related to Körper.)

However, if you look at the issue from Leib-perspective, you might say that there is Leib that is metamorphosed into a child, but the price the woman must pay for the "existence" of the child is that the child can never be separated from her Leib. There is WHOLENESS in Leib that never is present in Körper. If you cut a man in two halves, you have two Körpers that most probably soon will not show signs of being alive (remember: in Körper being alive is a conclusion based on observations).

In the video, the child can never gain public recognition, once it is her Leib that is the necessary condition for it, and therefore the woman can nothing but stay hiding in her own private world where the child can exist (which is also a kind of definition of craziness). On the one hand, she feels this urge to objectify the child in the sense of Körper. On the other hand, she understands that by doing so the baby is separated from her Leib. So, this is relevant: the child does not only exist in her imagination, as the vulgar normally would put it. No, in a sense the child really exists, but as actualized Leib.

Do note that from the Leib-perspective one canNOT say that the child is only symbolically present, not materially, once the child really only is the leg, which so to say symbolically represents the child. This is philosophy that presupposes that you see the woman's body as Körper. As Leib, it really doesn't make a difference if the child is real or symbolical. These are distinctions that can be said (or made) of the created nature, not of the creative nature. The Leib is both and/or none, you choose!" (Antti Kukkonen)