Gordon Library is hosting The Twenty-First Century Body, a juried exhibition curated in conjunction with the conference of the International Merleau-Ponty Circle which was held at WPI October 1st through 3rd. As an expression of the contours and contradictions of twenty-first century life, the exhibition strives to hold together a diversity of mediums, subject-matters, artistic technologies, degrees of realism and abstraction, temporalities, and perspectives. Such multiplicities are encouraged by the philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), which provides the theoretical ground for this exhibition. Merleau-Ponty’s aesthetic vision begins in a desire to do justice to lived, embodied experience in all its ambiguity. Our bodies are both objects for others and the locus of our own subjective perceptions, residues of past habits and creative orientations toward the future, radically individual and inescapably intertwined with other bodies and the movements of politics and history. The pieces in the exhibition were selected because they each uniquely incarnate the complex relations between perception, bodily experience, and the work of art that Merleau-Ponty describes. As such, they both speak to the particular tensions and harmonies of life in our own time and gesture to a horizon beyond time and context.
Sammy Chong, whose mixed media piece “Permanent Press,” is seen here, is one of 18 artists selected to be part of the exhibition. He explores the dynamics of making sense of the world around us, using oils and acrylics on layers of Plexiglas. Other media in the exhibition include photomontage, sculpture, and oil painting.
The conference and exhibition are sponsored by the WPI Humanities and Arts Department, the International Merleau-Ponty Circle, and the WPI Sesquicentennial Committee. The exhibition can be seen in the Class of 1941 Gallery, on Gordon Library’s Level Three, through November 7.