There once arose a dispute between the belly, and the other members of the of the body. The hands had discovered that the belly had been hoarding food for itself, and so they came to an agreement with the mouth and the other bodily extremities. Together they refused to labor or to eat until their desire for an equitable distribution of nourishment was met. They would starve the belly so that they might teach it a lesson.
The folktale of the Belly and the Members has existed in one form or another since the time of the ancient greeks, and possibly as far back as the 2nd millennium BCE. In authoritarian times the story (which usually resolves in the belly explaining to the other members of the body that they rely on it for nourishment) was understood to affirm direction from a single source, i.e. the sovereignty of a king. Today, the narrative has come to be associated more closely with the importance of team work or the mutual respect of roles—particularly those political in nature. In both cases the folktale is most often understood as an early example of the metaphor of the body politic— a sort of political zeitgeist.
What bears heavily in the story of The Belly and the Members, is the stakes of its means of representation. These are both the risks associated with the function of its metaphor (its lack of explicitness having lead to its being understood in support of the democratic process and also, in stark contrast, tyrannical rule) and those regarding its method of articulation. By anthropomorphizing the bodily, the folktale enters into the space of the surreal, doing so in an attempt to comment on the political reality of that which is explicitly real (the moral of many ancient Greek versions of the story often had to do with the importance of an intelligent general over the scale of his/her army).
The risks associated with these gestures are echoed in the works on display in “The Belly and the Members.” Artists working with figurative strategies rooted in the surreal and the hyper-real approach representation’s relationship to power. Themes of the representable: the figure, the image, the signifier, etc. become loaded with the artists’s own desires in this regard. Figurative representation is conflated with ideas regarding political representation, by means of the linked desires of occupying and relinquishing space (both real and imaginary, public[civic] and private). Inherent in the production of art meant to reproduce images of and from the world is the politics of the bodies that inhabit it, and all of the stakes that go along with them.
b. 1990, Armendaris live and works in Mexico City. He holds a MFA in the Painting and Drawing Department from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He graduated with a BFA in drawing and printmaking from Emily Carr University in 2015. He has exhibited in solo and group shows internationally in Canada, Mexico, Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Slovenia, Argentina and The United States. His work uses sculpture, drawing, printmaking, writing and installation. Thematically, Armendaris’s work circulates around the fusion of opposites, plural creation, hybrid identities, queering energies and multiplicity.
The work Ecdysis, utilizes an a modified image of a section of the Laocoön to address relationships of power. Armendaris, formulated the work following Donald Trumps televised resuscitation of “The Snake,” in which Trump (through context) inverted the intended meaning of the 1963 poem by civil rights activist Oscar Brown Jr.
b.1986, Dean lives and works in New York City. He graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Bachelors of Fine Art in 2009 and received fellowships from the Yale Summer School of Music and Art (2008), and the Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist Residency (2009). He co-founded Important Projects in Oakland in 2009 and helped to oversee the space’s program through 2014. His work has appeared in exhibitions at the I.S.C.P. (New York), Weekends (London), Princess (New York), Kimberly Klark (New York), Mini Bar Artists Space (Stockholm), Bureau (New York), Lodos (Mexico City), Jancar Jones (Los Angeles), and Bodega (New York). Dean works primarily in sculpture, using forms and images of late capitalism to invoke a critique of the system’s absurdity and un-sustainability.
b. 1988, Filio was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Filio earned his degree in painting from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and apprenticed under Rick Berry, a renowned scifi/fantasy illustrator based in Alewife, MA. Filio’s first solo show at Kimberly Klark (2017) received write-ups in The Village Voice and Artnews Magazine. Filio’s paintings reinterpret images from contemporary cultural commodities (films, television, fantasy genre explorations/ trope, etc.) through an expressive nature of oil paint. The repositioning of the images as sites for the investigation of the medium-specific qualities of paint brings up questions of labor in relationship to cultural production as well as function of escapism in Western culture.
b. 1994, Sylvie is an artist who currently lives and works in Chicago, IL. She earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2017 and is an alumni of the Alternative Worksite residency program. Using materials that retain her touch and the heat of her body- such as sand, paper-mache, dirt, necklaces, and torn fabric- her works function as surrogates of the self, finding their form as she thinks through the entanglements of her own body as it exists in relation to the spaces around her. She has exhibited internationally with solo and group exhibitions in Chicago, Mexico City, and London.
b. 1989, Jacoby lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. He holds a BFA from Bard College (2011), and was the 2014 recipient of the Kunststiftung Northern Rhine-Westfalia Young Artists Scholarship. Jacoby has exhibited Internationally including solo shows at the Swiss Institute at Luma Westbau, Zurich; Freedman Fitzpatrick (2017); Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, Baden-Baden (2016); Mathew, Berlin (2016); and High Art, Paris (2015). Recent group exhibitions include: High Art, Paris (2017); Room East, New York (2016); Union Pacific, London (2016); KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2015); Neuer Aachener Kunstverein (2015); White Flag Projects, St. Louis (2015). Jacoby’s sculptures which often begin in references to design objects from the modernist canon, explore the way in which objects gain, lose, and feign value through narratives of absorption and corrosion.
Natasha Le Sourd
b. 1994 Le Sourd lives and works in Philadelphia, PA. She holds a BFA from Parsons New School. She has exhibited extensively in group shows in NY, and in 2018 received the Women Cinemamakers as Independant Filmmaker Award for her piece “Eve Running,” which was also screened at the 2018 Crane Arts Video Festival. Her work, which moves fluidly between sculptures, drawings, paintings, installations, and videos, investigates conceptions of the feminine through its historical and contemporary representations and attempts to challenge notions of reality and myth in relation to the idea of a “legitimate perception.”
b. 1898, Magritte was a seminal Belgian surrealist artist.
b. 1985 Simonetti lives and works in NY. She holds a BFA from the Ontario College of Art and Design University, and studied film production at York University from 2004-2006. She is also an alumni of the Vermont Studio Center, Otion Front Studios AIR, Sunhoo Design Park, and HALO HALO residencies. Simonetti has exhibited extensive throughout the US and Canada. Her studio practice involves the creation of sculptures and drawings which interrogate the sources of violence in relation to lived experience, specifically how specific bodies and objects become saddled with notions of violence and a proclivity towards it. In addition to her studio practice, Simonetti is also a musician and has released music through HOSS records.