Project 88 is pleased to present Prajakta Potnis's second solo exhibition at the gallery, A Body Without Organs.
Deleuze and Guattari in their philosophical tour de force Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972-1980) proposed the concept of a Body without Organs. Mounted as a counter to the structures of social code and language, a body without organs was not an impoverished or disfigured body. Rather, it was a superior body that could not be reduced merely to its sociological, biological or historical location. It could produce its own fate through “a fluid transmission” of ideas and possibilities. In her show of the same name, Potnis also gives us a precipice from which this generative tension between containment and autonomy can be glimpsed.
A Deleuzian gathering of mattresses, fire, bones, clothes, bread, leather, wind, seepage, water, human tissue and foam invites us into a vortex of sensations. As we are pulled gently and firmly we encounter scenarios teeming with life. Here the ‘human’ is one visitation amongst many. While Potnis’ interest in objects and their possible inner lives has been a recurrent theme in her practice, this new body of work also produces a fresh milieu. In bringing painting, video and radiography together she operates out of a mezzanine space. Here without succumbing to convenience of binaries, she moves deftly between surfaces, depth, occlusions and openings.
In 2019, Potnis’ seventy-five year old uncle began suffering from recurrent lung infections. Detailed investigations revealed traces of detergent in his lungs that had mysteriously began to froth, making it difficult for him to breathe. Nearly four decades before this he had worked at a detergent factory. The traces of chemicals in his lungs were also an account of his labour, a history of work. After being dormant for a better part of his life, suddenly, the alliance between the synthetic and the biological had announced itself. Something that had been accruing all along was now spilling over.
In a transfixing durational sculpture, The floating island, made of over eighty shifting slides, we see foam build and recede over and over again. A ruminant ebb and flow sometimes immerses us and at others leaves us bare. The cold surface against which it lathers contests the allure of its self-governing forms. Here Potnis weaves the erotics of toxicity and the sovereignty of contagion to produce an observatory of time. This is a time of work, a time of play, a time of affliction and also a time of healing. These coterminous, activized orders of time also helps us navigate the other works in the show.
Exploited and abandoned by corporations, a worker’s body is controlled by the might of capital. Vandalised and gagged, it could have been a squalor of silence. Potnis, however, makes us attentive to it’s speech. She casts this body as a body without organs, a body that can determine it’s own fate. She turns her attention to cells, to the auto-immune impulse, to the will to fight. The diaphanous forms in her x-ray series He woke up with seeds in his lungs seems like maps, escape routes, constellations in the sky. In her paintings humans have just left. Or perhaps they are yet to arrive – as an allegory to their energetic swaying, a moist patch slowly takes over a wall. An anthill sits beside an open book on a table, a mattress dreams orthopaedic dreams. When seen closely, the vitreous quality of the x-ray works permeates the paintings while the painted image starts to impel abstract radiographic surfaces presented to us. The will of the world is produced as a zoetic relay between the human and the non-human. In the video work, Night Vision, she displays, rings of fire could be a pair of eyes. Vision could be caught in a double play between comfort and danger.
Today more than ever, when the crisis of global capital has seen an intensification of xenophobic and violent forces, this non-hierarchical alliance between various nodes of life can help us challenge the hubris of power. Through the will of the body to freedom and sovereignty, Potnis reminds us that resistance is ticking away, frothing just on the verge of spilling over.