- Natasha Matteson
- Christine Nyce
- Camila Palomino
- Candice Strongwater
In her seminal text, The Body in Pain (1985), American theorist Elaine Scarry writes that bodily pain not only blocks language but actively destroys it. She refers to a medical questionnaire that helps patients articulate the affective, cognitive, and sensory dimensions of their pain, a vocabulary for what would otherwise be indescribable. Throbbing, quivering, pulsing, and beating are four words used in the survey to express how pain’s felt-experience can be understood to have rhythm. These embodied rhythmic sensations might manifest as pain, pleasure, or both. throbbing_quivering_pulsing_beating considers the work of fourteen contemporary artists to question what it means to bear witness to the ineffable.
Selected from the Marieluise Hessel Collection, works by an international and intergenerational group of artists visualise the sensation patterns of pain and pleasure, foregrounding the abstracted, repeated, or dismembered body through sketches, snapshots, and fragments. This exhibition proposes tactical and poetic approaches to experiences that escape language.
Located at the center of the gallery, Paul Chan’s drawing, Choros of appetite 2 (2009), depicts a percussive multitude of faces sketched in profile, appearing to cry out in pain, hunger, or ecstasy. Other artworks represent pain inflicted upon the body, as in Germán Venegas’ image of a human form engulfed in flames. Finally, artworks such as those by Catherine Opie and Felix Gonzalez-Torres bring forward ideas of care and tenderness, portraying lovers, intimate communities, and pain produced with consent.