Museography - Habeas Corpus: May you have [a] body [to expose]


Habeas corpus is a legal action that protects fundamental rights against any action that violates them. In legal terms, it is a right based on the principle that a free man owns his body. Originally, it aimed to recognize and recover the body for its owner (a slave, lacking control over his body, could not exercise such action). As a legal form, it is subject to interpretations and perverse misinterpretations. Ambrose Bierce acidly defines it as “a judicial remedy that allows a man to be taken out of jail when he has been locked up for the crime he did not commit and not for the ones he actually did.”

Where we think the body is familiar to us, new perceptions, paradoxes, and manifestations appear in an eternal recurrence of difference. Having a body, far from being a natural condition, encompasses profound strangeness and great complexity. A powerful ability to disturb is enhanced by showing the fragmented body, emphasizing the allegorical character of each of its parts.

Beyond any homogeneity of time and history, the exhibition seeks to establish transversal connections, constellations, and consonances between representations of body parts in Baroque art from New Granada and in contemporary art.

"May you have [a] body [to exhibit]" is here an important concept. The exhibition will insist on the play, tension, and struggle between the "madness of seeing," as Michel de Certeau referred to the Baroque, and its corresponding incitement to the "madness of showing." From the Baroque to the most contemporary manifestations, we witness the uncontested triumph of the image and the protagonism of the body with its tremendous power of mass seduction. "It is the same drive, to see as to be seen," said Tertullian. This exhibition summons bodies that unfold and refold, that uncover and recover, fascinating us with their capacity for horror and/or beauty.

The body would be what is open, what is exposed. Thus, we know it occupies a place (and has a place) and is staged. There is a strong tension (in-tension and ex-tension) between hiding and showing the body, between folding and unfolding. In terms of Walter Benjamin, there is an oscillation between the cult value and the exhibition value of the body. The former encloses the work (the body) in secrecy, in the privacy of worship; the latter opens the body (the work) to gazes, even to the enjoyment of being shown, "for a presence is nothing if it is not, in some way, a presentation—praesentia—an exhibition."

Historically, the exhibition value seems to triumph over the cult value in a process that has not yet ended. The exhibition value continues to increase in geometric progression: from magic to art, from art to the mechanically reproduced image, from the reproduced image to the entertainment industry, from the entertainment industry to the condensation into image of any manifestation of capital. Paradoxically, at this point, a new cult phase begins: the commodity-fetish in its consumerist ecstasy, in its fervent reification, in the indulgences of accumulation, and in the glorification of abundance confirm that capitalism is not only ideology but also religion. Religion with its images, its priests, its exemplary lives, and rituals of worship: “mere worship, without dogma,” Benjamin remarked appropriately.

Project name
Museography - Habeas Corpus: May you have [a] body [to expose]
Bogotá | Colombia | Art Museum - The Reserve Bank of Colombia