The exhibition "Knowledge is power" is presented in the official section of PHotoEspaña 2013.

Madrid - JUN 19, 2013
Maybe the title, Knowledge is power, an homage to the star work of the show, the famous Savoir c'est pouvoir by Barbara Kruger, disorients us. It might seem that this exhibition is only a set of pictures with hardly any link between them. However, an overarching narrative underlies around the disjunctive about the ownership of the body. Who is the owner of our body? Who owns this first home?

We could have the audacity to think that our body is always ours, of the subject that inhabits it. Throughout this exhibition we realize that this is far from reality, it depends on the status of each individual.

In Denba's map Jim Goldberg shows us a map depicting the route of Denba in his attempt to go from Africa to Europe. An endless number of comings and goings from different points of both continents, that help us understand that, sometimes, the body is forced to stop being a body that feels and only represents a package without content. Treated as lost property, the body of the majority of illegal immigrants do not belong to them but to the institutions of power that regulate the territory where they are illegal. The Denba's map seems the route of any package, passing from hand to hand and that is returned to their country of origin like a lost suitcase. Is his body his even when he cannot decide where to place it, where he is left to be?

Mathieu Perrot (Untitled) emphasizes this idea of disturbing thing when he presents a photograph of a person sleeping on the street, completely covered in a white blanket. An Afghan immigrant who tries to go unnoticed in public. The best way to do this is to dehumanize, being invisible by covering oneself, knowing that there are people who think your body should not be there.
©Barbara Kruger, Savoir c’est pouvoir
Also in Suspensión 1 Manuela Marqués takes a photograph of the belongings of some immigrants who live in a square, hanging from a tree. If they are objectified coming to assume that role, not even their things may tread the same ground. 

It is reasonable to ask what category belongs to things, when their owners are treated exactly like that, as things. Without forgetting, the practical functionality of avoiding the theft of their own belongings in a symbolic exercise, the things are hung from a tree so they does not touch the ground that their owners can not tread.

Following the idea of ownership of the body, a play within this exhibition leaves us restless: Fair Trade Head of Maria Thereza Alves reminds us of the smuggling of human Maori parts that during cultural plundering were brought from New Zealand to France for exhibition. The Brazilian artist presents an installation that includes a description of her project with a close up of a girl with characteristic Maori facial tattoos and piercings.

Her project calls for us to address that offense by offering our heads instead. The French government, for a long time forbade to "remove an artifact belonging to the cultural heritage of France." Finally, thanks to pressure from the New Zealand government and Maori leaders, they achieved the return of part of the body material stolen with impunity. It is evident that the body of those Maori did not belong to thembut to the colonizers who, in virtue of a souvenir, decide to take human remains,in occasions fruit of murder, later categorized as art.

The drama experienced by colonized populations and the idea of ??objectification of the body as well as the theft of property, are clearly defined in Mémoire by Sammy Baloji. We can see old photos of black slaves and white settlers in the old mines of the Congo, superimposed on photos of the current status of these mines. The current scenarios give the feeling of being abandoned areas, scattered metal debris that interrogate us about whether it was worth all that suffering of men with neck chains that, it seems, look at us in the eye, almost defiant, looking for an answer. Accurate is the title of this work because as we know, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it.
©Robert Doisneau, Ricardo
Instead, in Robert Doisneau's Ricardo we see a body empowered by virtue of its status as a white man: a body full of tattoos that tells the biography of its wearer. First narrator of his own story and, judging by the pictures, proud of it. Submitted to the biopower which Foucault speaks of only when Ricardo committed a blood crime and was sent to jail. In a more visceral form, Marc Pataut speaks of racism and the relationship between races in Aparheid.  Black and white photographs of close-ups of black and white human bodies, where the eye of the spectator doubts when trying to distinguish which parts are whose. It reminds us of the bodies of Lucian Freud: throbbing flesh, that you are tempted to grab. There is a certain violence in these photos: hands that grasp thighs, aggressively, as if to penetrate the skin, almost trying to possess it. Even more.

Elena Herrera Quintana

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