The body – supposedly the most nearby thing – seems to elude
any clear-cut definition. As soon as we try to delimit its meaning, we
inevitably evoke an endless regression into further indefinable conceptions: if
we distinguish the body from the psyche (the mind, the soul etc.), we will have
to outline what this immaterial complement of the body is. If we determine the
body as an extension in space, we will have to understand what space is, and
besides we will be confronted with the question what it is, that is extended in
space – is there a subject that has a body, or is the body the subject itself?
If we choose this second option, why then do we speak of ‘my body’ and experience
ourselves in a certain relation to the body – as when being happy or unhappy
with our body?
In her lecture Zoe DeWitt gives an overview of some occidental philosophies of
the body from the classical conceptions of Plato and Aristotle up to the
contemporary approach of Jean-Luc Nancy. By dissecting their basic
presuppositions, Zoe shows that all these philosophies are not only connected
with certain sets of opposed metaphysical ideas, but also function as ideologies
that serve specific purposes of controlling people’s bodies and minds. Their
ultimate rejection is finally articulated by Antonin Artaud’s passionate call
for a ‘body without organs’ and his demand to place the body one last time on
the autopsy table to remake its anatomy, thus delivering it from all its
The soundtrack of the performance consists of new and
unpublished music by Zero Kama, assembled from original
recordings made with instruments of human bones and skulls in 1984.
The performance was part of the exhibition “Aufgerissenen
Auges: Transmanieristische Reaktionen” (xhibit, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna) and
part of the Vienna Art Week.