NG Starting in 2018, you have undertaken a long journey that has led to questioning the condition of our bodies in the contemporaneity, giving rise to one of the most extensive projects ever realized by the Fondazione Prada, which will be developed in four exhibition spaces and in the courtyards of our venue in Milan. In the exhibition, the transformations that affect our physicality are explored in the plurality of aspects of our lives, articulated in a sequence of immersive installations. The theme of the project, in the course of its definition, seems to have been enriched by doubts, making both the exhibition and the publication similar to an investigation, which, as a result, has distanced them from being so assertive in form. In this sense, the role of questions as a structural element of the project has become increasingly relevant, to the point that the very title, Useless Bodies? is now a question. In this regard, where does your interest in investigating the contemporary condition of the body originate?
E&D We seem to use our bodies less and less in this post-industrial reality. Nearly everything has become digitized, taking place on screens, and our physical existence feels increasingly dispensable in the Western world. To look at this phenomenon and create an exhibition that could open discussions on the consequences of this repositioning, which impacts every aspects of our lives, from the way people work, to our health, our interpersonal relationships and how we communicate and retain information, it was not just something that we’d hoped to delve into fully for a while, but actually ties together many different elements and themes that we’ve touched on in our sculptural and installation projects over the years.
“The exhibition is very much about now, of the moment, but it’s also about nostalgia and fear of a future that we do not know. It’s an emotional reckoning with the conundrum we find ourselves in right now.”
Subjects such as loneliness, growing up, romantic liaisons and different living modes are all present across our oeuvre in different ways and all relate to our perception of the body. In fact, once the concept for this exhibition had taken hold, it seemed to make more and more sense in the context of our work as a whole and at this point in time.
NG How is this theme articulated in relation to different shades of gender identity, and in particular to the investigation into the many expressions of the male universe that is part of your practice?
E&D We’ve been exploring the body as a theme since the beginning of our collaboration, since our first performances together. As our own experiences and realities are often starting points for specific projects or sculptures, our bodies and male bodies more generally have felt like a natural subject to pursue. Moreover, being two gay men, who’ve not always or easily resonated with the more macho articulations of the masculine, we’ve intuitively been looking at a broader spectrum of identities and gender-related concerns and it’s often manifested in our work. We often debate masculine fragility in our works. The image of a “strong man” is hard to keep up and can easily be challenged and shattered. This is why in parts of Useless Bodies?, especially in the Podium space, which will be filled with figurative sculptures, we continue to expand on the theme of the male identity, and it’s compelling to negotiate the various mediations of the masculine, which aren’t always at the fore, those that are side-lined in the media or by history and seldom presented as societal ideals, like fearfulness, feelings of isolation or social pressure.
Read the full interview on Muse September issue59